The Project Gutenberg eBook of Frances Mary Buss and her work for education

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Title: Frances Mary Buss and her work for education

Author: Annie E. Ridley

Release date: December 1, 2019 [eBook #60820]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by WS, Barry Abrahamsen, and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Photo. by Russell and Sons.
Yours always [** Illegible]
Frances M. Buss

“We work in hope”
   The School Motto
All rights reserved



In a life written by a friend for friends there must of necessity be more of the intimacy of private friendship than in a record written dispassionately for an unknown public. The world in general knows Frances Mary Buss as a public worker—capable, energetic, successful. By her friends she was loved as one of the most womanly of women—true, and tender, and loyal. Her work, to which all women of this generation owe so much, must assume prominence in the story of her life; but what is most desired is to show her as she was to her friends.

My warmest thanks are here offered to all who have so freely and so kindly helped me in this labour of love: first, to Miss Buss’ own family and personal friends, and to old pupils; vito Mrs. Bryant, D.Sc., and the members of the staff in both schools; and, for many valuable educational details, to Miss Emily Davies, Miss Beale, Mrs. William Grey, Miss Shirreff, Miss Mary Gurney, Miss Agnes J. Ward, Miss Hughes, and Dr. and Mrs. Fitch.

A. E. R.



  Introductory—Then and Now 1
I. Childhood 25
II. Girlhood 41
III. Influence 58
IV. Helpfulness 73
I. Transition 87
II. We Work in Hope 103
III. The Sisters of the Boys 117
IV. Timely Help 131
V. Triumph 146
VI. With her Fellow-workers 166
VII. Life at Myra Lodge 181
VIII. Early Educational Ideals 200
IX. Practical Work 215
viiiX. The Head-mistresses’ Association 231
XI. University Education for Women 252
XII. Training Colleges for Teachers 273
XIII. General Interests 287
I. In the Holidays 309
II. Rome 321
III. Social Life 336
IV. Friendships 349
V. Rest 366
VI. And her Works do follow her 379



Frances M. Buss Frontispiece
Frances M. Buss in 1860 and 1872 87
The Lower School 131
The Great Hall, North London Collegiate School for Girls 162
The Gymnasium, North London Collegiate School for Girls 200
North London Collegiate School for Girls 214
Miss Buss and Dr. Sophie Bryant 273

Page   1, line   2, for “July 29” read “July 18.”
Page  29, line 12, for “lighted” read “lifted.”
Page  39, line 25, for “to play” read “for play.”
Page 111, line 27, for “lady on” read “lady in.”



“Educate women, and you educate the teachers of men; if the child is father to the man, the woman forms the man in educating the child. The cause of female education is then, even in the most selfish sense, the cause of mankind at large.”—C. G. Nicolay.

Gracious speech can seldom have been more truthful than when the Prince of Wales said, on July 18, 1879, that few of their many public functions had afforded the Princess and himself more gratification than the opening of the great hall, given by the Clothworkers’ Company to the North London Collegiate School for Girls, a ceremony putting the final touch to the work of so many years.

It would not be easy to find a more attractive sight than this spacious building, filled with its five hundred happy young girls, either on “Founder’s Day,” when, decked in the school flower, we see them in that April mood in which

“The heart with rapture fills,
And dances with the daffodils;”

or when, on Prize-day, in the glory of summer roses, their jubilant young voices ring out in the favourite school-song, as, with fearless and confident eyes, they look “Forty years on!” while their elders, looking back 2down that long vista, think of the difference they can remember between Then and Now.

It was in this hall, on the prize-day of 1892, that the chairman, Mr. Fearon, drew a remarkable contrast between the present days of light for girls’ education, and the dark days of the first Schools Inquiry Commission of 1864, of which he had been a member. Then, it was still possible for the Commissioners to gravely ask if girls were capable of learning Latin and mathematics? Now, as he pointed out, this question might be answered by the results of this one year for this one school—eighteen passes, with two honours, on the University Examinations—to say nothing of the recent success at Cambridge, where a woman took a place above the Senior Wrangler.

As a member of the Commission of 1864, and, later, of the Endowed Schools Commission, Mr. Fearon was glad to claim some part in the making of this first public school for girls, of which he felt that “if ever there was an institution of which they might be proud, the success of which was calculated to stir the pulses, excite the emulation and enthusiasm of others, and give intense satisfaction to all who took part in it, either as founder, well-wishers, or friends, it was the North London Collegiate School for Girls.”

Then, from the brilliant hall, with its “rose-bud garden of girls,” the scene changed to the dark November day—November 30, 1865, a date to keep in mind—when, struggling through the November fog, Emily Davies and Frances Mary Buss made their way to the dull committee-room in Victoria Street, where the Commissioners awaited their coming.

The members of the Commission were Lord Taunton, Lord Lyttelton, Lord Stanley, Sir Stafford Northcote, the Dean of Chichester, the Rev. A. W. Thorold, Mr. 3Acland, Mr. Baines, Mr. Forster, Mr. Erle, and Dr. Storrar. To these, as Assistant-Commissioners, were added Messrs. D. B. Fearon, H. A. Giffard, C. H. Staunton, T. H. Green, J. L. Hammond, J. G. Fitch, J. Bryce, and H. M. Bompas.

The work of this Commission lasted from 1864 to 1869, and, later, many of the same gentlemen were appointed on the Endowed Schools Commission, and may be said to have carried on the same work, since they here applied the remedy to ills previously discovered by their researches. There are few of these names which will not be held in lasting honour by all thoughtful women who know how much is due for steady help in every cause most concerning their welfare.

It has, nevertheless, taken thirty years—since that same November 30, 1865—to give women a place side by side with men, on a Royal Commission, when, in 1894, Mrs. Bryant, D.Sc., took the seat Miss Buss was no longer able to fill on the second Royal Commission of Inquiry into Secondary Education. It is not difficult to imagine the feeling of satisfaction with which Miss Buss saw her “brilliant young fellow-worker,” as she delighted to call her, taking this proud position.

Further to mark the contrast between 1865 and 1894, we may take a passage in a letter from Miss Buss to Miss Davies, dated December 5, 1865, whilst still waiting for the Commissioners’ Report, in which she says—

“When will the evidence come, I wonder? I am so curious to know what I said, and what you said too. It is very odd, but the mist which surrounds that interview does not clear.

“They were indeed kind, and more than kind, as you say. As for Mr. Acland, he is what the ‘Home and Colonial’ consider you to be!

“I can’t get over my astonishment at their civility; and it is such fun to be told to ‘take a chair,’ as if we were the ‘party’ whom servants are so fond of announcing.”

4This is the one side. Wherever it was possible to see “fun” Miss Buss would see it. But there was another side too, revealed in a little remark made by Mr. Fearon to Mrs. Bryant, when the prize-giving was over at which he gave his reminiscences of that November day: “We were all so much struck by their perfect womanliness. Why, there were tears in Miss Buss’ eyes!”

And small wonder if this were so! In 1865—thirty years ago—it was an event to cause a heart-thrill when a woman was summoned, not to meekly receive information, but actually to give it; not to listen, but to speak, and before so important a body. It is quite conceivable that as they paused on the threshold these two ladies may have felt far more than a merely imaginative flash of sympathy with brave women of old, who had faced sterner tribunals to pay forfeit with life itself for the holding of new and strange doctrines.

To say that great events may hang on smallest incidents is a mere truism, trite as true. But we cannot doubt that a real turning point in the history of the English people was reached in the first official recognition of the equal share of women in the task of training the young. From this date what was before impossible became fact, and education takes rank as a true science.

It is of special interest in our own day, when the jarring note of antagonism between men and women is too often struck, to look back and remember the help given by men to the higher education of women. We note that the two most definite starting points of the new educational movement are to be found in the very innermost sanctum, in the strongest stronghold of masculine rights and privileges—the Universities and the House of Commons.

When, in 1863, the University of Cambridge opened 5its Local Examinations for girls, and when, in 1864, the House of Commons gave authority to a Royal Commission to extend its inquiry into the state of the education of girls, the new era was practically inaugurated. Henceforth women became free to do whatever they had power to do.

Nor was this the first help given by men to the better education of girls. In 1848—the great year of revolution—the professors of King’s College had opened the classes which speedily developed into Queen’s College, the forerunner of Bedford and Cheltenham Colleges. In 1850 the Rev. David Laing, who had been associated with the Queen’s College movement, gave his valuable help in the expansion of Miss Buss’ first small school on similar lines into the North London Collegiate School for Ladies. In 1865 this school stood so high that Miss Buss was asked by the Commissioners to give her views of education generally. This summons was doubtless the result of the report of the Assistant Commissioners who conducted the inquiry.

It was mainly due to the efforts of Miss Davies and Miss Bostock that girls’ schools were included in this inquiry. These ladies sent up a widely signed memorial from persons who had been interested in the extension to girls of the Local Examinations. Mr. Roby, the secretary, early in 1865, responded favourably to this appeal, pointing out that, as so many girls were privately educated, the limits of investigation in their case were much narrower than those for boys, and also pointing out that the numbers and value of endowments for girls were also restricted. But, “subject to these limitations,” he added, “the Commissioners were willing to embrace in their inquiry the education of both sexes alike.”

He stated also that the Commissioners expected to 6derive much important information from the evidence of persons of special experience and knowledge in the various matters connected with their inquiry. Among these witnesses they were ready to include such persons as may be recommended to them as best qualified to express opinions on the subject of this memorial.

In November, 1865, Miss Davies and Miss Buss were called to give their evidence. Miss Beale followed in April, 1866, and, during that same year, information on the education and the employment of women was given by six other ladies—Miss Wolstenholme, Miss Porter, Miss Kyberd, Miss Martin, Miss Smith, and Miss Gertrude King.

In 1870 a valuable summary of this evidence was compiled by Miss Beale from the twenty large volumes issued by the Commissioners. It is from this smaller blue-book that the following extracts are taken, the evidence of Miss Davies, Miss Buss, and Miss Beale being selected as characteristic of the views of the whole.

Read in the light of the recent University honours gained by women, many of the questions and answers of these examinations will have a curious interest for the “modern girl.”

When Lord Taunton put the question to Miss Buss:—

“‘Your girls come up to you extremely ignorant,’ there is evident conviction in her brief reply: ‘Extremely ignorant!’

“‘Do they seem to be very little taught at all?’—‘In all the essentials, hardly ever. They seldom know any arithmetic, for instance. We have a large number of girls, of thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen, come to us who can scarcely do the simplest sum in arithmetic.’

“‘Have you taken any interest in the movement which has been made to induce the University of Cambridge to institute examinations and confer honorary distinctions on girls?’—‘Yes; twenty-five of our pupils went up to the experimental examination.’

7“‘Do you anticipate any beneficial results from the steps which the University of Cambridge has been induced to adopt?’—‘Yes; I am quite sure that great good has been done already. An immense stimulus has been given, especially to English and arithmetic. The girls have something to work for, some hope, something to aim at, and the teachers also.’

“‘As far as you are able to judge, do you think the class of school-mistresses is as good as it ought to be?’—‘The class of teachers generally is not.’

“‘In your opinion, should the education of a girl differ essentially from that of a boy in the same rank of life, with regard to the subjects which are to be taught?’—‘I think not, but it is rather difficult to ascertain what is the proper education for a boy.’

“‘You believe there is not such a distinction between the mental powers of the two classes as to require any wide distinction between the good education given to a girl and that to a boy?’—‘I am sure girls can learn anything they are taught in an interesting manner, and for which they have a motive to work.’”

Miss Beale, when asked her opinion as to the admission of girls to University degrees, replied in a slightly modified strain—

“‘It seems to me that our opinions are so divided at present as to the modifications that will be introduced into girls’ education, that I should regret to see anything done hastily to assimilate it to that which may perhaps be altered for boys; but at the same time I think it is good for boys and girls to have similar tastes that their minds may not be entirely bent in different ways, so that in their after life they should understand and be interested in the same things.’

“‘In using the word “similar,” do you mean identical?’—‘I have had some boys as pupils in mathematics, and, as far as I can judge from these and the public schools they attended, I do not think that the mathematical powers of women enable them generally (their physical strength I dare say has a great deal to do with it) to go so far in the higher mathematics as boys; and I think we should be straining the mind (which is of all things to be deprecated) if we were to try to force them to take up several examinations as are necessarily passed by those who are taking the higher branches at the Universities.’

“‘I therefore probably should not be wrong in inferring that, 8while you recognize the similarity of the male and female mind, you would not go the length of saying that they must necessarily move in the same channel?’—‘No, I should be sorry to see them take up classics at all exclusively, because I do not think that, as regards the education of boys, it has been the most desirable to limit it thus. That is my individual opinion.’”

But Miss Davies, after her two years’ experience as Hon. Sec. of the Cambridge Local Examinations, had no hesitation concerning identity of standard for boys and for girls, when Lord Lyttelton put the case to her—

“You have taken a very active part in persuading the two Universities to listen to facts which you had to lay before them in reference to the state of female education. Will you be so good as to tell us what difficulties you have encountered, and what objection you have met with on behalf of either gentlemen or ladies, and then make any remarks which you have to make upon these difficulties?”

Objections and difficulties equally disappear in Miss Davies’ concise answer—

“It is difficult to state objections fairly when one does not agree with them. I think it was chiefly a sort of general feeling that it was not in accordance with the fitness of things. The objections seem generally to resolve themselves into that.”

To the proposition of some special scheme of examination which might be adopted for the special requirements of women, she said simply—

“I do not see what advantage it would have. It would be difficult to frame a curriculum specially suited to girls, because almost everybody has a separate theory about what it is good for girls to learn—about what is apposite to the female mind.”

The three ladies were agreed in accepting generally the verdict of the Commissioners on the existing state of girls’ schools, afterwards thus briefly summed up—

9“It cannot be denied that our picture of middle-class education is, on the whole, unfavourable. The general deficiency in girls’ education is stated with the utmost confidence, and with entire agreement, with whatever difference of statement, by many witnesses of competent authority. Want of thoroughness and foundation; slovenliness and showy superficiality; inattention to rudiments; undue time given to accomplishments, and these not taught intelligently or in any scientific manner; want of organization;—these may sufficiently indicate the character of the complaints received.”

There is also complete agreement as regards not only the need of better schools, but of better systems of training for teachers. Although thankful to accept concessions on the existing lines of boys’ education, faute de mieux, they are by no means persuaded that this education is even for boys all that could be desired. Even at that date they could venture to intimate the opinion that the mere fact of a University course did not, per se, make a good teacher.

Miss Davies called special attention to the fact, that while no endowments were applied to girls above the Elementary schools, many of these must have been intended for girls as well as boys, since they form part of bequests made “to the children” of certain parishes or districts.

Dr. Fitch has pointed out[1] that at this period, whilst 1192 boys were receiving at Christ’s Hospital an education fitting them for the Universities, there were eighteen girls only, and these trained as domestic servants. Elsewhere he goes into the question, showing that while charity schools were open to girls, they were entirely excluded from the grammar schools, where boys were being trained “to serve God and the State.” There is scarcely a record, he says, of any school whose founder deliberately intended a liberal education for girls.

1.  “Woman and the Universities,” Contemporary Review, August, 1890.

10“A girl was not expected ‘to serve God or State,’ and was, therefore, not invited to the University or grammar school; but she might, if poor, be needed to contribute to the comfort of her ‘betters’ as an apprentice or a servant, and therefore the charity schools were open to her.”

And Dr. Fitch’s own experience confirms this fact. Mr. George Moore, wishing to devote £10,000 to scholarships, sent in a scheme for the consideration of some of the leading educationalists, when, finding mention only of boys, Dr. Fitch ventured to suggest the fact that boys have sisters, receiving the explanation from Mr. Moore that it was from no intention of excluding them that they had been omitted, but simply that it had never occurred to him to think of girls in such a connection.

With the Endowed Schools Commission this state of things came to an end. We cannot tell how far the influence of the evidence given by women to the Schools Inquiry Commission may have extended, but it was then decided that “in any enactment or constitution that may be brought into operation on this question the full participation of girls in endowments should be broadly laid down.”

Among Miss Buss’ most able supporters in obtaining the endowment for her new schools she counted five members of the Schools Inquiry Commission—Lord Lyttelton, the Rev. A. W. Thorold (Bishop of Rochester and of Winchester), Dr. Storrar, Mr. Fearon, and Mr. Fitch. In 1866, while the Commission were still at work, Miss Davies thus speaks of it in her “Higher Education of Women”—

“Specific schemes adapted to circumstances will be devised as occasions arise. In the meantime, any kind of recognition of the fact that the education of women is a matter worth thinking about is of the utmost practical value. In this point of view, as indicating 11and expressing a growing sense of the importance of the subject, the extension to girls of the Local Examinations of the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, and the steps taken by the Schools Inquiry Commission in their pending investigations, have an indirect inference quite out of proportion to the immediate and calculable results obtained, affording a moral support and encouragement the effect of which it is not easy to estimate.”

The direct influence of the Commission may be gauged by the fact that within ten years of this date Miss Buss was able to make a list of forty-five new endowed schools for girls, to contain severally from fifty to four hundred pupils, with salaries for the head-mistresses varying from £100 a year to £200 (exclusive of capitation fees). Of this list she remarks—

“It is not complete, but will be useful in establishing my point, viz. that there are some good positions for properly qualified women-teachers.

“St. Paul’s is the greatest prize in the profession, or rather would be if the scheme had become law. Do you see, the salary might be £2000 a year. Ours is second, with a hundred more pupils, and therefore more work and less pay than St. Paul’s. My object in drawing up the list was to show the importance of training and high education for women-teachers. Such prizes are not to be had elsewhere. Look at Scotch girls’ schools, at German also. We women owe a deep debt to the Endowed School Commission.”

The verdict given as the result of the Schools Inquiry Commission does not, of course, exclude the fact that there were then, and had always been, some good private schools where a good education had been given. The true teacher, like the poet, “is born and not made,” the power to teach being as much a Divine gift as that of song or of painting. It is true that the perception of every gift must depend on its full culture, the extent of success being determined by the amount of genius; but there have always been born teachers, 12some self-educated and some developed by exceptional home surroundings. Women of this kind have always existed as the loved and honoured centres of exceptional influence, sending out pupils formed on their own model.

Doubtless, there could have been found, at any period in the world’s history, a sufficient justification for the attitude condemned in one of the early papers in Fraser on the then quite new Queen’s College:—

‘Educate the women!’ exclaimed an accomplished and excellent man in our hearing, and with marked surprise. ‘Where is the necessity? A college for ladies! Nonsense! Women are admirably educated! I see none but well-educated women around me!’ in the tone of a man who, when told of those who hunger for bread, should reply, ‘Want bread? Nonsense! Hunger! There is no such thing! I see a good dinner before me every day.’”

But, granting that there was education, and of a real kind, we must agree that this, as a rule, was accessible only in the form of a very highly paid private governess, or in select and very expensive private schools. That even so much was not common, and not to be secured by the very highest payments, may be inferred from the account given by Miss Cobbe, in her “Autobiography,” of a typical fashionable school, where a two years’ course cost £1000, of which she says that “if the object had been to produce the minimum of result at the maximum of cost, nothing could have been better designed for the purpose.” In this school, she adds, “everything was taught in the inverse ratio of its true importance. At the bottom of the scale were morals and religion, and at the top music and dancing.”

The point to be kept before us, in considering the special work of this past half-century, is that for the 13middle-classes, including professional persons of moderate means, good education was practically out of reach, the cheaper schools which were open to them being, for the most part, of the order condemned by the Commissioners. It follows, therefore, that the opening of the new schools—with the best teaching on moderate terms—was a change of which the importance can scarcely yet be justly estimated, especially when, side by side with this preparatory movement, the advantages of University training were added. Before this time no girls’ schools, however advanced, had gone beyond the subjects considered suitable for women, and any women with knowledge of classics or mathematics were either exceptionally gifted, or had accidentally been taught with their brothers.

When we go back to November 30, 1865, the fog outside that committee-room is a true symbol of the gloom that prevailed regarding the higher education of women. Darkness still held rule, even though a few of the topmost peaks had already caught the first rays of the coming dawn.

At that date the future was still so veiled that it could by no possibility have occurred to Miss Davies or Miss Buss, standing there before the Commissioners, even to dream of themselves as what we now know them to have been—the representatives, one of University Education for Women, and the other of Public Schools for Girls, that is to say, of the two most powerful agencies in the greatest revolution of modern times.

But in those days Miss Buss’ school was still her own private property, and, as yet, no glimpse had crossed her mental vision of its future as the model of the great public girls’ schools now spread throughout the land. So, too, with Miss Davies. Girton was not, and even Hitchin had not come into view, though possibly some 14vague ideal of a true college for women may have been taking shape in Miss Davies’ mind. But if so, it must still have been as baseless as the poet’s dream, for no “sweet girl-graduate” existed as yet out of the domain of the “Princess Ida.” On this lower earth at that time, and for many a day after, she could serve only as matter for a flying jest.

There were indeed three “Colleges” for girls—Queen’s, Bedford, and Cheltenham, as well as the North London Collegiate School for Ladies—all in full work, and even then ready for the rapid expansion which followed the opening of the Universities to women. But, at that date, these could not rank as more than collegiate schools; nor was more desired, for Professor Maurice is very careful, in his inaugural address, to deprecate all intention of emulating the poet’s creation, thus guarding himself:—

“We should indeed rejoice to profit in this or any undertaking by the deep wisdom which the author of the ‘Princess’ has concealed under a veil of exquisite grace and lightness; we should not wish to think less nobly than his royal heroine does of the rights and powers of her sex, but we should be more inclined to acquiesce in the conclusions of her matured experience, than to revive—upon a miserably feeble and reduced scale, with some fatal deviations from its original statutes—her splendid but transitory foundation.”

Only the first step to the great changes of the present day had then been taken, when, in 1863, the University of Cambridge had allowed girls, as an experiment, to join the Local Examinations. Miss Buss always dated the later superiority of the teaching in her school to her experiences on that occasion. Out of eighty-four girls who went in, she sent twenty-five, of whom fifteen passed. The failure of ten in arithmetic pulled her up short, with the result that the teaching 15was so far changed that none failed in the next year, when girls were finally admitted on the same terms with boys, and the London Centre was formed under Miss Davies. But, even in 1866, success was so far limited, that Miss Beale could reply as follows to Lord Lyttelton’s query, “If she had heard of these new examinations?”—

“There seems to be some difficulty in applying them to the higher middle classes. I think of our own case. The brothers of our pupils go to the Universities. Now, generally speaking, those who go in for the Local Examinations occupy a much lower place in the social scale, and our pupils would not like to be classed with them, but regarded as equal in rank to those who pass at the University. These feelings are stronger in small places.”

The far-reaching effect of these examinations is indicated by Miss Buss’ opinion that “until the Local Cambridge Examinations were organized, there was no sort of recognition on the part of men that the feminine mind could under any circumstances rank with the masculine.”

We see from this fact that, before the middle of this century, the “woman’s movement” could not be said to exist at all. The question of equality—so much to the front at present—could not then even have been formulated. It is not till 1869 that we find it taken at all seriously, in a paper in the Macmillan for March of that year, by a writer who remarks that—

“Two alternatives are open to the would-be reformers of woman. The first of these is the line of Miss Lydia Becker, the second of Miss Emily Davies.”

And he adds that—

“Without wishing to disparage unduly the efforts of any earnest woman for what she believes to be the improvement of her sex, a thoughtful man must feel that the second is of the two the 16wiser course; the one which is most practical, most sensible, least dangerous, and most likely to secure the sympathy of the mass of Englishmen and Englishwomen.”

It is true that, in 1864, Dr. W. B. Hodgson, one of the first and best friends to the higher education of women, recognizes the fact that there might “rise up before the affrighted fancy” visions of what are derisively called “strong-minded women,” disputations, brow-beating, troubled with “a determination of words to the mouth,” loud and harsh in voice, arrogant in temper, dogmatic, self-willed, unconventional, undomestic, impatient of the matrimonial yoke as a badge of slavery, and with, perhaps, a leaning to waistcoats, and collars turned down, cigars, and hair parted on the side—such, in short, as a recent Italian dramatist, Castelvecchio, has so amusingly delineated in his “Donna Romantica.” But of this type, Dr. Hodgson adds—

“I know not whether the experience of my hearers is like mine; but assuredly of the very few women in whom it has been my lot to meet with any resemblance to this offensive type, not one has been distinguished by superior breadth or depth of culture. Very much the reverse. They have been remarkable for nothing more than the want of a truly liberal education, of which it is the high office to impart a large sympathy, a tolerant appreciation of various opinions, respect for others, and a modest distrust of self. It is not assuredly among the Mrs. Jamesons, the Mrs. Somervilles, the Mrs. Brownings, the Miss Swanwicks, that such portents are found. Dogmatism and presumption ever attend ignorance, not knowledge; shallowness, not depth.”[2]

2.  “The Education of Girls,” etc., by W. B. Hodgson, LL.D.

There were, indeed, indications of the two distinct lines of action in the work for higher education, and in the work for political reforms. But as yet they were not distinctly divided. The sympathies of the most thoughtful women went out in both directions, even whilst they might follow the one or the other more 17definitely. It was no more possible then than it would be possible now to draw a hard and fast line; placing on the one side the Educationalists, and on the other the workers for Suffrage and other reforms affecting women. Then, as now, women could be divided into two classes only—the wise and the foolish. Then, as now, the wise worked wisely in whatever line they followed, while the foolish worked also after their own kind.

The educational reform attracted the larger following, content to work in preparing women for the best use of extended power when the time of possession might arrive. In the mean time, the object sought was merely the preparation for actual duties, either in home-life, or in employments rendered necessary by the pressure of circumstances.

In looking back over the great educational movement, which has so changed the aspect of society, two points stand out most sharply: (1) that the work was done in the true natural order by men and women side by side; and (2) that it was done in the true spiritual order, in that quietness which is the appointed avenue to higher inspiration, that stillness which leads to vital knowledge; and also that it was done in the obedience which is the link that binds man to God—practical religion.

It is impossible to judge as yet what may be the final outcome of the intellectual freedom now opened to all women. There are signs of what was the most probable immediate effect—the exaggeration of recoil from all ancient bonds, including those of religion and duty. Whilst it would be very short-sighted to suppose that such a state of things could ever be permanent, so long as women retain any remnant of the intuitional quality which is their special dower, it may still be 18seasonable to call special attention to the fact that the pioneers in the educational movement are, without exception, deeply religious women. This circumstance may or may not be an accident of no particular moment. The point is that it is historic fact, and as such has its own significance. In a quite special degree, we may point to Miss Davies and to Miss Beale, as well as to Miss Buss and Miss Clough, as quite typically law-abiding and obedient women.

Quietness, in its most literal sense, is most curiously characteristic of all the educational leaders. The very thought of Emily Davies, reticent and self-controlled, gives a sense of calm and stillness. For long years we see Frances Mary Buss curbing her magnificent energies to the “daily round, the common task.” Anne Clough works in silence for a lifetime, between the first little day school in Liverpool and the success of Newnham. Dorothea Beale, though she can rise to all poetic heights, is observant of all the small sweet courtesies of lowly service, and, if “learned” in all school-lore, is also notably “learned in all gracious household ways.” And the same must be said of Frances Martin, who, in her College for Working Women, has so extended the range of the new education that none now need be left out.

Nor are these qualities less conspicuous in the group of what may be termed the “amateurs” of the movement—true “lovers” of their kind, who, having all that heart could desire of this world’s good, have made it their business to share it with those less favoured: Lady Stanley of Alderley, Lady Augusta Stanley, Lady Frederick Cavendish, Mrs. Manning and her daughter Miss E. A. Manning, Mrs. Reed, Miss Bostock, Mrs. Wedgwood, Madame Bodichon, Miss Ewart, and Miss L. M. Hubbard, all more lavish of time 19and thought and wealth than of words. And then all the active workers: sweet Mrs. Grey, with the touch of old-world stateliness adding strength to her sweetness; Miss Shirreff and Miss Mary Gurney, of few words, but these straight to the point; Mrs. Burbury, true to her University traditions, and Mrs. Garrett-Anderson, with the professional reticence learned in her fight through the medical schools; Miss Davenport-Hill, known to the School Board as the woman who can hold her tongue, and her sister Florence, “wisest of wise women,” as her friends call her, also with a great gift of silence; Miss Laura Soames, too early taken from us; and the many more like-minded, whose works rather than their tongues still speak for them.

It is not, indeed, that any one of these lacks the power to speak, for on some occasion most have been known to speak even from the platform, and to speak well. But not to women like these could those famous words of Mrs. Browning’s ever be held appropriate—

“A woman cannot do the thing she ought,—
Which means whatever perfect thing she can,
In life, in art, in science,—but she fears
To let the perfect action take her part,
And rest there: she must prove what she can do
Before she does it, prate of woman’s rights,
Of woman’s mission, woman’s function, till
The men (who are prating too on their side) cry,
‘A woman’s function plainly is—to talk!’”

And these quiet women are the true pioneers—the women who have actually done the work. They did not call on the world to listen to what women might, could, would, or should do under quite different conditions; they simply did—under the actually existing conditions—just the thing that needed to be done, then and there.

There was not in those days the need of perpetual 20discussions about “rights” or “wrongs.” The easiest way to cure the wrong seemed to lie in doing the nearest right. It was not that they were indifferent either to existing abuses, or to past wrongs, or blind to the need of necessary reforms. There was not one of them who was not stirred to the depths of her being by the wrong of past ages, or by the present anguish under which women agonize. It was because these deepest depths were so stirred that there they found themselves at one with the Divine love, which has not only suffered, but has conquered suffering—in this love finding strength for work and patience for waiting; and, as they worked and as they waited, there came forgiveness for the past, healing for the present, and hope for the future. All work that is done in the spirit of Christ is thereby lifted above anger, bitterness, or despair. In these moods no great or lasting work has been done or can be done. Not for selfish ends, not even for self-development, do the greatest workers leave the quiet of home, but only and always for freedom to do the highest duty, for the glorious liberty of love. Therefore the secret is not in revolt, but in obedience to the higher law which may indeed at times seem to be a breaking of the laws of men. By this test we may measure all our greatest women leaders. In turn we may find that each has defied to the uttermost the public opinion of her time in daring to prove her right to free action. But just in proportion to the height to which she rose we find her true womanliness strong to withstand any strain. The only real stepping out of woman’s proper sphere is when she descends to measure her strength with man on the lower level of self-love and self-seeking.

But weary as we grow of the present phase of empty “sound and fury, signifying nothing”—the language of revolt and invective—we need not fear for the future, 21or doubt that a true progress is taking us through all this jarring and wrangling and strife to a safe goal—

“Where beyond these voices there is peace.”
“When, at the last, a woman set herself to man,
Like perfect music unto noble words;
And so these twain upon the skirts of Time
Sit side by side, full-summ’d in all their powers,
Dispensing harvest, sowing the To-be,
Self reverent each, and reverencing each,
Distinct in individualities,
But like each other even as those who love.
Then comes the statelier Eden back to men;
Then reign the worlds great bridals, chaste and calm;
Then springs the crowning race of humankind.
May these things be!”




“The very pulse of the machine
     •     •     •      •     •     •     
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength and skill;
A perfect woman, nobly plann’d
To warn, to comfort, and command.”

The record of the life of Frances Mary Buss includes within it, in brief, the story of the modern educational movement, in which she took so leading a part. It is not the less a story of perfect womanliness, in a career that is one of natural and steady growth, from seed to full fruitage. The woman simply fulfils the promise of the child.

It is a life most remarkable in this completeness. To very few of the greatest even is it given to see their life-work crowned with complete success. Frances Mary Buss was one of the few who begin life with a fixed aim, and who live to see self-devotion end in triumph. And the end left her, as the beginning had found her, as humble as she was loving.

In an age of incessant movement it is very restful to find a life of constant action which is yet so quiet and orderly, with continuity of place as marked as its continuity of purpose. All her work, widely as its influence extended beyond these limits, was carried on 26within the parish of St. Pancras—fifty years of ceaseless energy, from eighteen years of age to sixty-eight.

In holiday-time she used her freedom for as much change as could be compressed within holiday limits, thus seeing much of Europe as well as of her native land. But, excepting for one term of absence from illness, she might always, in working time, have been found at her post.

“Not for her name only, but because of her love and good works do I love to connect her with St. Francis!” writes an old pupil;[3] and though at the first shock there may seem a touch of incongruity in thus linking the great ascetic saint of the past and this essentially modern worker, there is, nevertheless, much suggestiveness in the association.

3.  In a bright little sketch in the Woman’s Penny Paper, of June 8, 1889.

Are they not, after all, of the very same order? What is the greatest saint but that child of God who is most aware of his Divine sonship, and therefore most intent on doing his “Father’s business”? Fashions of service may change, but this fact remains changeless. The fashion of the past was to mortify the flesh, and to serve the world by prayer rather than by work. The fashion of the present sees that “laborare est orare,” and serves the world by self-devotion instead of self-denial. The past was ruled by negations, and the stern “Thou shalt not!” rose as a barrier between man and man. The “saint” was not merely, as the word signifies, one “set apart” to do the will of God “on earth as it is [done] in heaven,” but he became instead one cut off, or separated, from the life of ordinary humanity. In our day we have risen to the power of the affirmation, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and we 27go on to the inevitable sequence, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Not the denial or the evasion of human duties, but their fulfilment utterly, is our test of sainthood in the present. It may be less easy to trace our saints by the quiet fireside or in the busy street; in the senate house or on the market-place; but none the less saintly are these in their modern garb than those who went their way apart, as stately abbot or humble anchorite, as hooded friar or cloistered nun.

The form may change, but the fact is the same. With the fact of a great love filling his soul, St. Francis, vowed to poverty, is still richer than the richest; and our modern saint, with all life’s gifts consecrated to service, may safely make the most of life, having thus the more to share. Having love, riches and poverty alike fall into their true place, as accidents, and not essentials of being.

We go back to far Assisi, and, looking across the Umbrian plain, see the quaint quiet little hill-town—unchanged in seven centuries—still looking like a white dove fluttering down the dark slope of Monte Subiaco. Here we find the boy Francis, gay and careless, dreaming his boyish dreams of royal courts and of knightly fame; till, falling as a dark shadow across the glittering pageant, comes the vision of the world’s poverty and pain, and the dreamer wakes to take his chosen place among the poor and sorrowing. To spend and be spent for love’s sake is henceforth the aim and the achievement of this perfect life.

Then we turn to commonplace St. Pancras, within sound of the crowding, hurrying, tumultuous life of the great modern city. Here we find the girl, Frances, dreaming over her books, with who can tell what ambitious dreams of her own future, as her heart burns with the sense of conscious power? But to her, too, 28comes the vision of struggle and of hard toil, and to her ear the cry of pain. And she awakes from her dream, to spend and be spent, that in the future every woman may rise to her full stature, set free for ever from the trammels of ignorance and of fear.

It is the very same story, only read in the light of a different age. The key-note to these harmonious lives is the same—love. Love, simplicity, humility, poverty of self, and devotion to others, form the common chord of this heavenly music, vary the movements as we may.

With merely technical or dogmatic theology neither the mediæval nor the modern saint has much to do. Religion forms an integral part of daily life. Love to God—accepted in His appointed channels, and for His appointed ends—is the sum and substance of this creed. The life of our modern worker had its roots deep down in the love and life eternal, as is seen by its fruits. One who knew her best—her eldest brother—says of her, “All through her life she acted on the highest principle—as a loving Christian. Out of this came, as the natural fruit, her large-hearted charity, her help she gave ever willingly to all who needed assistance.” This love interpenetrated all her being and expressed itself in service, in deeds, not words. “Don’t preach, but be; your actions will do more than your words!” she was wont to say to her pupils.

It must all come back again to the key-note—love. And we notice as the special quality of the modern, as opposed to the mediæval saint, a certain humanness which stoops to the smallest things, and, so stooping, lifts them to highest uses. We read of one of the typical saints of the olden days how she pressed into the seclusion of her convent, stepping over the prostrate body of her old father, whose prayers had failed to move her. “Heaven is the price,” she would have 29said, in the favourite words of another such saint of our own century, the Mère Angélique, who, lying pillowless on the bare ground, spent her last dying breath in sending from her the one human creature for whom she had a human love, a young novice, who obeyed her, broken-hearted. The inevitable outcome of the ascetic ideal—of pain for pain’s sake—has always been and must be inhumanity. The distinctive outcome of the wider grasp of God’s love which in our day says instead, pain for love’s sake only, is the exact opposite—an ever deepening humanity, in which human love is lifted up into the Divine, gathering into its embrace not only every race of mankind, but the brute creation too.

That this was characteristic in a most remarkable degree of her whom we are glad to recognize as one of our foremost teachers, remarkable especially in her power of loving and of inspiring love, we see most clearly in the word which seems by common consent to be that chosen to describe her—motherly, the most human as it is the most Divine word of mortal speech.

Few things are more delightful than the effort to trace the process by which a great personality is fitted for a great work. We may rejoice that we possess sufficient indications of her childhood to show how this child grew up to make life different for the children of after times.

Frances Mary Buss, born August 16, 1827, was the eldest child—and only daughter who survived infancy—of parents who were both persons of exceptional force of character. Her father was not only an artist of skill far beyond the average, but was a man of cultivated literary and scientific tastes. His influence was a powerful factor in the training of the child who was his joy and pride in her public career, as well as the most obedient and devoted of daughters.

30The mother, almost adored by her children, was one of those strong loving souls whose silent lives are eloquent beyond all speech, who are enshrined in the hearts of all within their sphere as very ideals of love and loyalty.

Mrs. Septimus Buss thus writes of—

“the large-hearted loving Mother, whose motherliness was not only for her own, but for all children. It was a family joke that she came home from her walks penniless, as she could never see a poor child looking longingly into a cake-shop without sending it happily away in possession of a ‘goody.’ Many of us remember how we naturally went to her for comfort, and always felt the trouble lightened by some brave or kind word, or personal help, if possible. What merry, cheerful, little impromptu parties there were in her ever hospitable house, among her own children and others who, having finished their work, remained to play!

“Her watchword, like Miss Buss’, was Duty. I once answered, in real fright, ‘Oh, aunt, I am sure I cannot!’ She replied, ‘Child, never say I cannot, when called to any duty, but do the best you can!’ The devoted love that her children bore her was only the due return for her unwearied care of, and tenderness to, them in every detail of their life.”

Her family regard it only as traditional that their mother was descended from Mrs. Fleetwood, the daughter of Oliver Cromwell; but I had it as an accepted fact from one of the undoubted members of that family, who was proud to claim even so remote a connection with one whom she had so much admired. Miss Andrews must have been educated at Mrs. Wyand’s school, in the generation preceding Miss Buss, and she probably spoke with authority on the matter. She also had remarkable power as a teacher, with quite original views on education, a fact interesting as throwing a sidelight on the school in which Miss Buss was educated, the best in the neighbourhood of Mornington Crescent.

31In a book of “Memories,” compiled for the family circle of Dr. Henry Buss—the “Uncle Henry” to whom, as a girl, “Fanny” owed some of her first holiday trips abroad—we find it recorded that “in 1689, William and Mary brought in their train from Holland a Mrs. Buss, who held the post of nurse to the Princess Anne, afterwards queen.”

The descendants of Mrs. Buss settled chiefly in the county of Kent. At Bromley, in 1775, we find one of them, Robert Buss, holding a post in the Excise. He afterwards became a schoolmaster at Tunbridge. His son, William Church Buss, became known as “a skilled engraver,” and, marrying “pretty Mary Anne Starling,” made his home, in 1803, in Jewin Street, Aldersgate.

We must dismiss entirely all our present associations with Aldersgate, and go back to the beginning of the century, to the description given by Dr. Buss of the city at the time when his parents made their home there—

“At this time the city itself was separated by fields from the village of Islington. It was the custom for pedestrians, especially after dark, to collect at Aldersgate-bars in sufficient force to protect each other from footpads, while crossing the fields to this village.

“The site of the existing City Road Basin was a market garden, thus utilized when the Grand Junction Canal Company extended their waterway through the city to the Thames. From the village of Islington to Highgate and Hampstead it was nearly all fields. Copenhagen House stood in the midst of cornfields. This spot is now the centre of New Smithfield Cattle Market.... The river Fleet was then as wide as the New River, and was supplied with boats for rowing. Excepting the Thames, it was the nearest river, and also a favourite bathing-place for the youth of London.”

There was probably no great change, as it was still before the days of steam and rail, when the little granddaughter of William Church Buss was sent to visit her grandparents, who had then removed to Newgate Street. Her maternal grandparents still lived in Clerkenwell, near the market gardens there.

32William Church Buss was a very skilful engraver, and his son, Robert William Buss, was trained by him, and was a clever engraver before he became a painter, and subsequently a well-known etcher on copper and steel, and draughtsman for wood-engravers. Working in this way, he illustrated the novels of Mrs. Trollope and Captain Marryat, and other writers, and two of the first etchings for “Pickwick” were his doing. For Charles Knight he illustrated “Chaucer,” helping also in the “Shakespeare,” “London,” and “Old England,” issued by that publisher. Many of his own original pictures were engraved and had wide sale, such as “Soliciting a Vote,” “The Musical Bore,” “Satisfaction,” “Time and Tide,” etc. And, with all this, he still found time for lectures on “The Beautiful and Picturesque,” on “Fresco,” and on “Comic Art”—this last re-written at the close of his life, and dedicated to his daughter, under the title of “Graphic Satire.”

It was when on a visit to her paternal grandparents, in Newgate Street, that the future Educationalist made her first acquaintance with school-life, after a very quaint fashion, as she thus tells us—

“To get me out of the way, my grandparents sent me to a little school in the city, on a first floor, with a few forms, and, as far as I remember, with no other appurtenances for a school at all.

“The second school to which I went was kept by a Miss Cook—a mixed school of boys and girls. In Miss Cook’s school we sat on forms, and learned lessons which it never occurred to her to explain. I remember learning a good deal of ‘Murray’s Grammar.’”

In Frances Power Cobbe’s “Autobiography” she tells us that the first practical result of her attainment of the arts of reading and writing—throwing a lurid light on the agonies of the process—was to inscribe on the gravel walk, in large letters, “Lessons, thou tyrant of the mind!” A similar inscription might have been 33engraven for the benefit of Miss Cook by Frances Mary Buss, after this prolonged course of Lindley Murray without explanation. But she seems to have found other solace. The tyranny of lessons was powerless to crush this independent young mind, or to repress an independence of action more suitable to the age of “Revolting Daughters,” than to that of “Mrs. Trimmer” or of “Evenings at Home.” Her next story tells how she invited a little companion to a juvenile party, which existed only in her own active imagination, until the kind mother gave it objective reality, on hearing of the small boy’s bitter disappointment. It might be at this school that Miss Buss acquired that ideal of “mixed schools” which she kept before her to the end, though she knew it was not to become fact in her day.

She was very far from spending her young life only in sitting on a form, learning lessons by rote. “Children,” says Mr. Ruskin, “should have times of being off duty, like soldiers;” or, as Dr. Abbott puts the same truth very clearly, “Children should have time to think their own thoughts.” These privileges certainly did belong to the children of the past, and, like many another clever child, the little Fanny made full use of her liberty, for she continues—

“As soon as I could begin to read I revelled in books, and especially fairy tales. I devoured every fairy tale that was to be had. In those days the books available for children were ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress,’ ‘Miss Edgeworth’s Tales,’ ‘The Arabian Nights,’ and the old nursery stories. Of these I had single copies, which I managed to buy out of the money given to me. I had, in addition, translations of the Countess D’Aulnoy’s tales. As my father had a very fair library for the date, and as I had access to all his books, I had a wide course of reading. I knew Milton’s introduction to ‘The History of England,’ with the legends of Bladud, Lear, etc.; ‘Hume’s History,’ in every part, except the political, which I invariably skipped; the novels of the eighteenth century—‘Tom Jones,’ ‘Pamela,’ ‘The Man of Feeling,’ ‘Joseph 34Andrews,’ ‘Peregrine Pickle,’ etc. ‘Pamela’ was in four large volumes, the first of which I could never get because my mother hid it. At about ten years of age I became acquainted with Scott’s novels, and knew all the stories by heart, except ‘Rob Roy,’ for which I did not care. My father had the ‘Abbotsford Edition,’ with the poems, in twelve volumes. I never, however, read the poetry. In consequence of my father being engaged to illustrate books for Charles Knight, and for Bentley and Colburn, the publishers, I used to have the opportunity of reading the proofs, by going down, at six o’clock on summer mornings, to his room before any one was there. I remember my chief difficulty, however, with the proofs was paging them correctly; this I never learned to do, and therefore I read the pages as they came, fitting them into my mind properly afterwards. In that way I read Mrs. Trollope’s ‘Widow Married,’ Marryat’s ‘Peter Simple,’ etc.... During this early period of my life I must have become acquainted with the contents of about forty volumes of plays, published by Cumberland. There were also many volumes of plays of the previous century, which I knew almost by heart. Amongst these were volumes of Peruvian, Persian, and Turkish tales, belonging to a young aunt, my mother’s sister, who lent them to me. In these tales there was no attempt at connection, every person introduced merely telling his or her own story.

“I remember that, as my brother Alfred grew up, I used to find it necessary, in order to enjoy my book, to hide myself under a sofa, in a room on the second floor, which was occupied by a Government clerk. This gentleman was out all day, and therefore his room was available. My mother must have known this, because we children—the boys at any rate—were not allowed to go to this room.”

At about the same time we find the insatiable child reading Miss Strickland’s “Queens of England,” of which she says “each volume came out by itself, and I remember I used to save up all my pence to hire a volume to read, and even at that early age I made many notes.”

History remained her favourite study, and her mode of teaching it must have made it fascinating to her pupils. One of these, afterwards a member of the staff, remarks of it—

35“I was at school from 1864–67, and the pleasantest part of the time was the lessons I had in history, French, geography, and literature from Miss Buss. How thorough her teaching was! It seems to me that I have never forgotten what she taught, while most of the lessons from others (except Dr. Hodgson and Miss Chessar) seem to have passed away without leaving any definite trace in my memory. Her lessons were alive; the historical characters and scenes she described seemed as familiar as if one had known them personally, and she made everything interesting because she herself had such interest in what she taught.”

Another of the old pupils says also—

“But for picturesqueness and interest her history lessons excelled all others. It was then she gave us ‘the cream of her life’s reading,’ as I have heard her say. Two lectures specially remain in my mind on ‘The Rise of the Hydes.’ There were many in the class who lost not a point from beginning to end, so graphically was the story presented to us.”

And at any time, to the last, to hear her sum up the characteristics of any special period, or describe any great event, with her instinctively picturesque presentation of the scene, was a treat of no common order.

To this graphic power of description, her early artistic surroundings must in no small degree have contributed. At one time she taught drawing in her class, but she never had the time for any artistic work of her own. She had, however, keen and cultivated artistic tastes, and her feeling for colour was especially marked. Her visits to Italy intensified this delight in colour, and she indulged it in ways sometimes regarded as hazardous by eyes accustomed only to sober British tints. But they were in the end obliged to admire these innovations. She was among the first to appreciate the new developments of decorative art, and Myra Lodge and the Cottage at Epping revealed her taste at every turn.

In the account of the next stage of her school-life, 36we get glimpses of her social surroundings which show that there must have been much to stimulate the child’s eager and inquiring mind—

“At ten years of age I was sent to a much higher school, kept by Mrs. Wyand, at the corner of Rutland Street, Hampstead Road. Here I met with the daughters of David Roberts, Clarkson Stanfield, and other artists. Mr. Wyand had a boys’ school, largely attended by the sons of artists. A few doors lower down lived George Cruickshank. Clarkson Stanfield also lived in Mornington Place; and, still nearer the school, Frederick Bacon, the engraver, with whose niece and adopted daughter I was on the most intimate terms. At a later date the daughters of Goodall entered the school, and also Isabella Irving, the daughter of Edward Irving, a tall, fine dark girl, very like her father. Her brother, Martin Irving, was in the boys’ school.”

We have to bear in mind that at this date Mornington Crescent occupied much the same position, as a literary and artistic centre, which is held by Hampstead at the present day. Even as late as 1850, the westward migrations had not begun, for market gardens filled the space between Kensington High Street and Chelsea proper, and Notting Hill Square was on the verge of the country. In 1850, University and King’s Colleges made a centre in the west central district; and the establishment even of a Collegiate School for Ladies was regarded as a slight infringement of the dignity of Camden Street, which could boast at that date of so choice an intellectual cotérie as Professor De Morgan, Professor Key, Professor Hoppus, and Dr. Kitto. It was near enough to town life, and yet near the country, long stretches of green fields and flowery hedges leading to the heights of Hampstead and Highgate. Regent’s Park was the nearest of the parks, and the New Road had not then outgrown the freshness of its name.

In these records of Miss Buss’ childhood we seem 37taken back to another world, as we read of the “long coast journey to the Docks,” on the way to Margate, when the child sees “the remains of the illuminations of the day before for the celebration of the Princess Victoria’s birthday.” In the next year also there are, again at Margate, “triumphal arches in honour of the Queen’s coronation.” And then there is the first sight of the young Queen—

“I had been taken to the park by my grandmother, and an open carriage passed with three ladies in deep mourning—one was the Queen, the other the Duchess of Kent, and the third a lady in waiting. The following year I also saw the Queen in an open carriage going to the Academy. She then wore a white dress, and a very large bonnet lined with pink. I think she had a green parasol.”

On another occasion there is “a vision of scarlet and of a mass of white drapery” as “the young couple are returning from St. James’ Chapel on the Queen’s birthday.”

Very pleasant, in its old-fashioned simplicity, must have been the life of this artistic circle, united in tastes and occupations, and living, as it were, between town and country, with the advantages of both. It was no wonder that, under such influences, this child early developed intellectual tastes. But her growth was equal on all sides, love of books being only one of her varied “talents.” She tells us—

“At that date it was considered necessary that every girl should work; and before I was ten years of age I had made a shirt for my father, all the parts being cut out and arranged by my mother, sewing machines not being then invented. So, too, as it was long before the days of Peak and Frean, or Huntley and Palmer, for our childish parties, I used to help my mother make all the biscuits, as well as the cakes and tarts. I remember one large grown-up party which my parents gave, on which occasion the door was smoothed in some way, and a very handsome 38border painted round it by my father (an elaborate design about two feet wide). This was my first appearance among grown-up people, and I quite well remember the delight I felt at the idea of being asked to dance by a very tall man, an engraver, whose name I forget, whom I met in after years and found to be very insignificant. The belles of that evening were the Miss Cumberlands, daughters of the publisher, for whom at that time my father was painting a series of theatrical portraits.”

Among the celebrated actors forming this series were Charles Matthews, Reeve, Harley, Mrs. Nesbit, Buckstone, Ellen Tree, Vandenhof, Macready, and Dowton. At an early age “Fanny” had been taken to the theatre, of which we learn that “at that date the Sadler’s Wells Theatre was held in high repute. The stage was very large, and being situated near the New River was able to utilize a great deal of water.” We may imagine the excitement of the children over the arrival of these wonderful personages; how they peered silently over the banisters, and how, when the sittings were over, they stole into the studio to examine the costumes which were left for the artist’s use, with what glee to discover, for instance, that Vandenhof’s cap, in some great character, was “made of a large blue sugar-bag covered with some coloured material.”

Amateur theatricals were a favourite amusement at the young parties—at first, when the kind father was the chief performer, in “a series of dancing card figures, exhibited on a sheet as shadows, he writing and reading the text;” afterwards, the performances were of more ambitious character, at Mr. Wyand’s school, when the boys were allowed to invite their sisters and friends, and “where the plays were written by the boys, and the women’s parts taken by boys, to our great delight, as they invariably tumbled over their skirts.”

In one play, the king’s part is taken by John Blockley, son of the author of the then favourite song 39“Love Not,” in a play in which the chief characters are “King Edward” and the “Sultan of Turkey,” Edward being a “tall, thin, shy lad, who in the meekest possible way announced that while he lived no Turkish prince should wield Edward’s sceptre” (a folded sheet of exercise paper). “My brother Alfred contributed a large cloak, lined with red, which continued to be a famous piece of stage property. The swords, shields, etc., were made by my father.”

The pupils who knew the school when Miss Buss was in full vigour will read with interest these early developments of the dramatic power which played such part in the tableaux vivants, plays, charades, or costume dances of that period. These entertainments, involving parties counted by hundreds where ordinary folk have units, were a great feature of school-life. They must have formed a delightful break in that excessive study so condemned by the world outside, which assuredly in no wise prevented the most hilarious enjoyment of these revels, shared by all, from the dignified head down to the most frolicsome of the “little ones.”

And for all readers it is pleasant to have these glimpses of the happy home-life in which this loving nature had such free room for growth. So much is implied as we see the busy father making time for play with his children, as well as for “writing letters on grammar,” which the studious little daughter “used to find on the stairs;” or again, as we note the good mother, not less busy, kindly shutting her eyes to those surreptitious studies under the sofa, instead of calling on her only girl to take her part in amusing the younger children, of whom, in course of time, one sister and eight brothers made their appearance in the active household. Of these, however, only four brothers attained manhood.

40In later years the elder sister needed no bidding to stand by the mother to whom she was devoted, and whose comfort and stay she became in the long struggle with the many claims on a narrow income. In those days life was a struggle to even the most distinguished artists, and fame was by no means synonymous with fortune.

In the natural course of things more than one opportunity came to the girl to change this home struggle for a life of her own under easier auspices. And once she had felt the force of the temptation; but duty had early become the watchword of her life; and as she looked at the mother burdened with her weight of cares, the good daughter, at a cost none but herself could measure, turned from the dreams of her girlhood, from the hopes of womanhood, and kept her place by her mother’s side.

Years afterwards in a few words she tells us all the story—

“I have had real heart-ache, such as at intervals in earlier life I had to bear: when I put aside marriage; when Mr. Laing died; and again when my dearest mother, the brave, loving, strong, tender woman, left all her children. I quite believe in heart-ache! God’s ways are not our ways!”



“O’er wayward childhood would’st thou hold firm rule
And sun thee in the light of happy faces,
Love, hope, and patience, these must be thy graces,
And in thine own heart let them first keep school.”

Of Miss Buss as a girl we have a very telling little sketch in her own words, showing how this happy childhood merged only too quickly into a girlhood early fitting her for the strenuous life-work towards which she was moving on through long silent years of training.

“I may as well take this opportunity of saying that within a month after I had reached my fourteenth birthday I began to teach, and that never since, with the exception of holidays and two occasions of serious illness, have I spent my days out of a schoolroom. I was in sole charge of a large school for a week at a time when I was sixteen. When I was twenty-three I was mistress of a large private school, containing nearly a hundred pupils; that hundred was turned into two hundred by the time I was twenty-five.

“I mention these facts just to show you how intensely active my life has been, for it is always to be borne in mind that in addition to spending my days in the schoolroom, I had to gain the whole of my education, such as it is, in the evening or in the holidays, and that for some years in my early life there was a great burden of money anxieties.

“You will see that I have never, therefore, known leisure. Of 42late years, since the work has developed so much, I have done less teaching, but until the last four or five years, and for some years after the opening of the Cambridge Examinations, I was the sole mistress of the highest class, teaching every subject in it—English, French, German, and some Latin.

“After the Cambridge Examinations began it was necessary to be free one hour in the morning, in order to see what was going on in other classes.

“As a matter of fact, I have had to teach almost everything at different times. For some years I assisted in the teaching of model and freehand drawing.

“Circumstances never seemed favourable for my having time to do anything, so to speak, but live inside the schoolroom, and there carry into practice such theories as crossed my mind. I think it would have been much better for me if I had been able to have had a greater knowledge of the theory of the profession by private study, but hard practice has taught me something.”

In one of this girl’s early sayings—“Why are women so little thought of? I would have girls trained to match their brothers!”—we have the key-note of her harmonious life. It was experience transmuted into sympathy. In the stress of her own girlish efforts she gained her life-long feeling for the half-educated, on whom is too early laid the burden of money getting. Then, when occasion demanded, she was ready to give up her own ease, and to undertake the heavy work which has secured to thousands of wage-earning girls the practical training of a thorough education.

Not less plainly, also, do we see, in her desire to fit herself for her own work, the first impetus to secure for all teachers the training needed for their special calling; an object ever close to her heart, and one in which her success will be her strongest claim to the gratitude of future generations.

The claim of an increasing family was no doubt in this, as in so many cases, the reason why the mother and daughter opened the first school in Clarence Road. 43And then, like so many other sisters, this girl would watch her brothers going off to school or college for the studies in which she—being a girl—could have no share. But, like many a good sister before and since, she would contentedly put aside her own dreams or desires, doing her best to help her brothers. Such sacrifice was taken simply as the highest duty, and thus turned to deepest delight; but we can see how this loving obedience was in reality a storing up of energy for the great revolution of which she had caught the earliest intimations.

It is a pleasant thought to take in passing that this good sister—happier than many—had brothers equally good. If she was all that a sister could be she found in them good brothers, who were friends and fellow-workers, helping her in all the great aims of her life. Her eldest brother, the Rev. Alfred J. Buss, as clerk to the governing body of the schools, quite relieved her mind from all anxiety concerning business arrangements; whilst the religious instruction given by the Rev. Septimus Buss carried on the early tradition of the school. There was a wide gap between the eldest of the family and number seven, so that her relation with this brother, after the mother’s death, was half maternal as well as half sisterly. When he early became engaged to her pupil, cousin, and friend, and thus gave her the truest and most tender of sisters, the bond was doubled, and the children of this beloved pair—her namesake Francis, especially—became as her very own. Her letters are full of allusion to “my boy,” who was her joy from his peculiarly engaging babyhood till he fulfilled her heart’s desire by taking Holy Orders. His next brother followed in this example, first set by the son of the Rev. A. J. Buss, now Minor Canon of Lincoln.

This clerical bent was very strong in the family. 44As a boy, Alfred Joseph Buss shared his sister’s enthusiasm for teaching, and for any hope of head-mastership Holy Orders were essential. Before he was out of his teens he became the first assistant-master in the then newly opened North London Collegiate School for Boys. He was also English tutor at one time to the young Orleans princes. But later in life he found himself drawn most strongly to the work of the parish priest. Septimus Buss inherited so much of his father’s genius, that he seemed destined for art, having a picture in the Royal Academy whilst only nineteen years of age. But, though in obedience to his father he worked hard at painting, he still had his own intentions, and worked harder at Greek and Latin. Knowing, however, that there was at that time an extra strain upon the family finances, he bravely kept his own wishes to himself till he had earned the means of carrying them out. The story of these two brothers is among the helpful and instructive tales that ought some day to be written, to show what can be done by high aims and resolute will. Of both it may be said that they are all the stronger as fighters in their splendid battle against East End misery, because, in their own boyhood, they knew how “to endure hardness as good soldiers.”

This attraction to the clerical profession was a natural sequence to early associations. The most powerful influence of Miss Buss’ girlish life was undoubtedly that of her revered friend of whom Mrs. Septimus Buss writes, when alluding to—

“the earnest spiritual influence of the Rev. David Laing, who built the church and schools of Holy Trinity, Kentish Town, giving his whole fortune and his life to found the parish. His teaching by precept and practice was self-sacrifice, and the large-hearted charity that beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth 45all things, coupled with the wide culture that welcomed new thought, and proved all things. His hospitable home was constantly open to his parishioners, where he received them among his cultured circle of literary, scientific, and artistic friends. He at once took his stand by the North London Collegiate School, while others waited till its success was sure. We, oldest of old pupils, still thrill with somewhat of the past enthusiasm when we recall his inspiring teaching. The band of devoted workers he gathered round him in his parish—which was then almost unique for the number of works of charity carried on in it, and for the weekly lectures by Mr. S. C. Hall and others—testified to his personal influence, the motive power of which was not what he saw, but what he was.”

In memory of her lamented friend, Miss Buss, after his death, established six “Laing Scholarships,” by which so many girls who needed this help received a free education in her school. Thus for ten years Mr. Laing’s memory was kept in mind. With the changes of 1870 these Scholarships ceased, but Miss Buss’ devotion to Mrs. Laing knew no intermission till her old friend’s death in 1876; and Miss Fawcett has an interesting little comment on this unfailing thoughtfulness—

“All associated with our dear friend must have been struck with her loyalty and faithfulness to her old friends. I am thinking especially of her treatment of Mrs. Laing, for so many years. Sunday by Sunday she went to see her after morning service as regularly as the day came round; flowers were sent to her very frequently, also nice books to read. On her birthday Miss Buss never failed to see her before the school-work began.”

Among the school records there is a letter which is of interest as showing the close relations which existed between Mr. and Mrs. Laing and the school. It is addressed to the chairman presiding at the first prize-day after the double loss which made so sad a change for the young head-mistress—the death within a year of her mother and of Mr. Laing—

46Rev. and dear Sir,

“May I beg you to express my great regret at the impossibility of my being at your meeting to-day? I do not say that it would not have been very painful to attend, when two so loved and honoured are missing since we last assembled for the same purpose; but it is still more painful to stay away. I wished to show my true interest in the cause Mr. Laing had so much at heart; my warm regard for the friends he so much valued; my deep sense of the respect and affection shown to his memory in the establishment of the Laing Scholarships.

“Many to-day will remember how in much pain and weakness he filled his place last year, but a few days before he took to the bed whence he was to rise no more. It was the last evidence he was permitted to give of his feeling with regard to the work carried on here; and I feel I can do nothing better than adopt that which in various ways he has so often said to me, ‘Miss Buss is doing a great and good work. Hundreds will rise up and call her blessed.’

“I am, yours faithfully,

Mary E. Laing.”

To the influence of Mr. Laing, and of his no less admirable wife, Miss Buss owed much of the mental and moral breadth for which she was afterwards so distinguished. In their home she was always welcome, finding a never-failing sympathy and encouragement. Often in our quiet talks she delighted to refer to these early memories, speaking of the advantage such a friendship had been to her in her young life; and to this grateful memory it is probable that many of her own young assistants, especially those least fortunate in their social surroundings, may have owed much of the thoughtful kindness so valuable to girls beginning their career as teachers.

With the knowledge of the satisfaction she would have felt in fuller recognition of Mr. Laing’s services to education in general, as well as in particular to her own school, it will not be out of place here to give 47some notes supplied by the Rev. A. J. Buss, with his own comment on them—

“There is much that I would say about the connection with Mr. Laing—about himself as a great leader (almost unacknowledged) in the educational movement of the latter half of this century. To me the question is an interesting one, for I loved Mr. Laing as a young man, and cherish his memory as most precious now that I am advanced in life. It is at least remarkable that he who, as honorary secretary and a member of the Board of Management of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution, took some part in the foundation of Queen’s, should have been a prime mover in the foundation of that school which has become the North London Collegiate School for Girls, and has rendered possible, and given such impetus to, the higher education of girls and women.”

The story of the rise of Queen’s College is of interest from many points of view, beyond that concerning our present purpose of showing the influences that inspired Frances Mary Buss with her special zeal for education. In knowing Mr. Laing she came into direct touch with the newest educational effort, and must have heard the whole question discussed from all sides.

Mr. Laing, in 1843, rescued the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution from decay, remaining its active honorary secretary till his death in 1860. This society was formed—

“with the idea of benefiting governesses in every possible way; to help in temporary difficulty; to provide annuities for aged governesses; to help the younger to help themselves; to provide a home for governesses during engagements, and an asylum for the aged; also a system of registration, free of expense, to those seeking engagements.”

The whole of these objects were contemplated in 1843, and, in 1844, were a matter of negotiation with the National Society, with the Committee of Council, and with the heads of the Church.

In giving an account of the early work—as a reply 48to an article in Fraser’s Magazine (July, 1849), commenting unfavourably on the efforts that were then made—Mr. Laing shows that with the foundation of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution the first principles of all future movements were really incorporated. He says—

“In undertaking an institution for the benefit of governesses, it was felt to be absurd and short-sighted to remedy existing evils without an attempt at their removal.... To do this the character of the whole class must be raised, and there was the bright thought that to raise the character of governesses as a class was to raise the whole tone of Christian society throughout the country.”

But it was easier to plan such a college than to carry out these plans, and several years passed without practical results. Reference is made, year by year, on the subject, in the annual reports of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution.

In that for 1845, we find that “difficulties which the committee had not anticipated, have arisen with the several authorities, from whom Boards of Examiners, with power to grant a diploma of qualification, might originate.”

In the report for 1846, “an act of incorporation and arrangements for a diploma” are still “subjects of consideration, upon which the committee are prepared to enter into communication with all parties friendly to the cause. Unexpected difficulties still intervene.”

It was in 1848 that the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution received a royal charter of incorporation, thus worded—

“We have been graciously pleased to permit the name of Queen’s College, in which certificates of qualification are granted to governesses, and in which arrangements have been made with professors of high talent and standing in society to open classes in all branches of female education.”

49Queen’s College was governed by a council of gentlemen, and its first principal, Professor Maurice, was followed by Professor Plumptre. A committee of lady-visitors was formed, but the duties of these ladies was merely to be present while the teaching was done by men. Among them we find the familiar names of Mrs. S. C. Hall, Mrs. Marcet, Miss Maurice, Mrs. Kay Shuttleworth, and Mrs. Hensleigh Wedgwood.

It would appear, from the report of 1849, that while the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution was thus working for better education for women and girls, other schemes had been proposed, first by Miss Murray, one of her Majesty’s ladies in waiting, and then by the professors of King’s College. Eventually, the formation of a Committee of Education, of which Mr. Laing and Professors Maurice and Nicolay were active members, brought things to a practical point, as Professor Nicolay states[4] that the “Committee of Education,” thus formed, did its work in connection with, if not actually for, the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution.

4.  In the English Education Journal, 1849.

In his inaugural lecture at Hanover Square, in 1848, Professor Maurice shows how this institution, beginning with a provision for distress among governesses, came to associate distress with incompetency, and hence to provide better instruction. In like manner, beginning as examiners, the professors soon found that before they could examine they must first teach, and for this purpose organized the classes that grew into Queen’s College.

In Fraser’s Magazine, early in the fifties, are to be found several papers concerning the foundation of Queen’s College, thus finally summed up by the editor—

50“With reference to the article on Queen’s College in our last number, Mr. Laing, as Hon. Sec. to the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution, desires us to state that the society was in communication with the Government and other parties respecting the establishment of the college as early as 1844, whilst there was no communication with the present professors until 1847; and that her Majesty granted to the society the permission to use the Royal name for the college before any connection was formed with the present professors.

“Whilst, therefore, the success of the college is wholly attributable to the character and talents of its teachers, the college would have existed under any circumstances.”

In the same year, six months later, Bedford College was founded, mainly by Mrs. Reid and Miss Bostock, and among the ladies interested we find many names afterwards prominent in the movement for opening the Universities to women, as those of Lady Romilly, Lady Belcher, Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Crompton, Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Goldsmid, Mrs. Jameson, Mrs. Bryan Walter Procter, Lady Pollock, Miss Julia Smith, Mrs. Strutt (afterwards Lady Belper), Miss Emily Davies, Miss Anna Swanwick, and Mrs. Hensleigh Wedgwood.

One distinct difference between Queen’s College and Bedford College is that the first was managed by men, with a man as the principal and women only as lady-visitors. Bedford College had from the first a mixed committee, and the visitor who represented the head might be of either sex. Latterly Miss Anna Swanwick has held this post. Results seem to indicate the advantage of giving women an equal share in the education of girls.

It was by Mr. Laing’s introduction that Miss Buss became one of the first pupils of the evening classes at Queen’s College. The Queen’s College of that day (1848) bore little resemblance to the colleges of a 51quarter of a century later, but there was an enormous stride onwards in the curriculum offered to its first pupils.

In her “History of Cheltenham College,” Miss Beale gives us a glimpse of these classes—

“Queen’s College offered to grant certificates to governesses.... My sisters and I were amongst some of the first to offer ourselves for examination. For Holy Scripture the examiner was the Rev. E. H. Plumptre, afterwards Dean of Wells, so well known for his Biblical Commentaries, his great learning, and his translations of the Greek dramatists and Dante. He also examined in classics. In modern history and literature we had the pleasure of being examined by Professor Maurice. The viva voce was a delightful conversation; he led us on by his sympathetic manner and kindly appreciation so that we hardly remembered he was an examiner. For French and German our examiners were Professors Brasseur and Bernays; for mathematics, Professor Hall and Mr. Cock; for music, Sterndale Bennett; and for pedagogy, the head of the Battersea Training College.”

The names of the Rev. Charles Kingsley, for English literature and composition; of Professor Nicolay, for history and geography; and of Professor Hullah, for vocal music, also appear on the list.

It was of classes like these that, as a girl of twenty-one, Frances Mary Buss became a happy pupil. Her father’s interest in art and science had prepared her to enter into the spirit of such teaching, and to profit by the influence of the great men who threw their whole souls into their work. What this meant to the girls thus privileged is shown in lives like those of Miss Buss, Miss Beale, Miss Frances Martin, or Miss Julia Wedgwood, and many more perhaps less known to fame.

A memory comes back to me of an evening in 1881, spent at Myra Lodge, where the difference between the old and the new order of things was emphasized in a 52marked degree. Standing out from the far past, as precursors of the new era, were Miss Buss herself, Miss Beale, and Miss Frances Martin; midway, as a Schools Inquiry Commissioner, was Mr. J. G. Fitch; while the moderns bloomed out in Dr. Sophie Bryant, one of the earliest Cambridge Local candidates, and the very first woman-Doctor of Science; Miss Rose Aitkin, B.A., stood for the arts; and, I think, Miss Sara A. Burstall (since B.A.) as the first girl who had, like her brothers, educated herself by her brains, passing, largely by scholarships, up from the Camden School, through the Upper School, and on to Girton.

It was a thing to remember to hear how the three elder women spoke of the old and new days, and then to see what had been done for the girls through their efforts. Miss Buss told us many things of her girlhood, and her difficulties in fitting herself for her work; and especially of the stimulus and delight of the new world of thought and feeling opened by those first lectures. Miss Beale and Miss Martin, coming later, had enjoyed all the advantages of Queen’s College, but they did not the less appreciate those first lectures. As they spoke in glowing terms of Professor Maurice, one could not but wish that he might have been there to see the three grand women who have done so much for womanhood—pupils worthy of even such a master.

The picture fixed itself in my mind of Frances Mary Buss, in the first ardour of this new intellectual awakening. She was teaching all day in her own school, so that she could take only the evening classes. There were at that time no omnibuses, and night after night, her day’s work done, the enthusiastic girl walked from Camden Town to Queen’s College and back. Night after night she sat up into the small hours, entranced by her new studies, preparing thus not only for the 53papers which won for her the desired certificates, but for that greater future of which she did not then even dream.

In her Autobiography, Miss Cobbe gives a very telling summary of the education of the earlier part of this century, in her account of the particular school in which her own education had been, as it was called, “finished,” at a cost, for two years, of £1000. How she began it for herself afterwards she also tells, but of this finished portion she thus writes—

“Nobody dreamed that any one of us could, in later life, be more or less than an ornament to Society. That a pupil in that school should become an artist or authoress would have been regarded as a deplorable dereliction. Not that which was good or useful to the community, or even that which would be delightful to ourselves, but that which would make us admired in society was the raison d’être of such requirement.

“The education of women was probably at its lowest ebb about half a century ago. It was at that period more pretentious than it had ever been before, and infinitely more costly; and it was likewise more shallow and senseless than can easily be believed. To inspire young women with due gratitude for their present privileges, won for them by my contemporaries, I can think of nothing better than to acquaint them with some of the features of school-life in England in the days of their mothers. I say advisedly in those of their mothers, for in those of their grandmothers things were by no means equally bad. There was much less pretence, and more genuine instruction, so far as it extended.”

We are justified in the conclusion that Mrs. Wyand’s school, in which Frances Mary Buss received her training, as pupil and then as assistant, was one of the survivals from this olden time. From one of the pupils, who was there as a child while Miss Buss was assistant-mistress, we have a sketch of Mrs. Wyand as a slight, erect little lady, with very dark eyes, and with black hair, in the ringlets of that era, confined on each side by tortoiseshell side-combs. She always 54wore long rustling silk gowns, and altogether was an impressive personage, before whom the most volatile schoolgirl at once grew staid and sober. Mention of Miss Buss herself seems limited to a certain satisfaction in having carried provocation to so great an extent as to make the young teacher cry. But we may easily imagine that before the end of that encounter the tables were turned, and that then may have begun the treatment of “naughty girls” so successful in later life.

Thanks to the good training received under Mrs. Wyand, Miss Buss was able, at the age of eighteen, to take an active part in the school opened by Mrs. Buss in Clarence Road. Before she was twenty-three she had gained the Queen’s College Diploma, and she then became the head of the new school in Camden Street, which was the outcome of this first venture.

The course of instruction included most of the subjects now taught, and Miss Eleanor Begbie—who claims to have been the first pupil in Camden Street, and who has been superintendent of the Sandall Road School, familiar, therefore, with all new methods—affirms confidently that the Science and Art classes taken by Mr. Buss were “as good, and quite as interesting, as anything given now.”

This is confirmed by Mrs. Pierson, who says of these very happy school-days—

“Her dear father greatly added to the enjoyment of school life by giving us courses of lectures illustrated by diagrams on geology, astronomy, botany, zoology, and chemistry, quite equal to those given by highly paid professors of the present day, and he gave them for love, and nothing extra was put down in the bills, although each course was an education by itself, given in his lucid and most interesting way.”

These lectures, as Mrs. S. Buss says in her reminiscences—

55“awakened in many a pupil the thirst for reading and study. His artistic talent, and the pleasant excursions for sketching from Nature, were novel inspirations in the days when the ordinary girlish specimens of copied drawings resembled nothing in Nature. A good elocutionist himself, he taught us to read and recite with expression.”

His daughter had the same gift, inherited or acquired, and her school has always been specially distinguished in all examinations for the excellence of the reading.

Mrs. S. Buss mentions, in addition to Mrs. Laing, as also specially interested in the school—

“the Rev. Canon Dale, Vicar of St. Pancras, and his two sons, Pelham and Lawford Dale; the Rev. Cornelius Hart, Vicar of Old St. Pancras; the Rev. R. P. Clemenger, Vicar of St. Thomas’, Agar Town; the Revs. E. Spooner and Charles Lee, the immediate successors of Mr. Laing; the Countess of Hardwicke, one of the earliest and most faithful friends of the school, whose daughter, Lady Elizabeth Biddulph, still continues the yearly prize for good conduct, and whose warm letter of sympathy, in January, was one of the many we received. We all remember, too, Judge Payne, and his witty impromptu verses at so many prize-givings.”

When we listen to these memories of the earlier school-days, we cannot dispute the position that—

“The foundation of the North London Collegiate School for Ladies was not merely the commencement of one special school, but was an era in education. If we very old pupils can carry our mind back to the time when the ‘Guide to Knowledge’ and ‘Mangnall’s Questions’ were the chief standard school-books for most of the scientific and historical instruction that girls received; when the mildest form of gymnastics (such as jumping over a stick held a few inches above the ground) was deemed so unladylike that some girls were withdrawn from the earliest classes formed; when the study of the most rudimentary physiology horrified the Mrs. Grundies of the period, who would not permit their daughters to continue the course after the first lesson (like the mother of later times at the primary school, who wrote to the teacher, ‘Mrs. S—— asks that my Mary Jane do not go again to those lessons 56where they talk about their bodies: first, which it is nasty; and second, which it is rude!’); the time when we learnt pages of dictionary, with meanings, in the first class, and rules of dry-as-dust grammar, without any meaning to us for years afterwards; the time when it was asserted and believed, that a girl’s mind was incapable of grasping any mathematical knowledge beyond the first four rules of arithmetic;—we can, remembering those good old times, see what a wonderful stride was taken in girls’ education by the North London Collegiate School, even in its infancy. Can we not recall those long tramps, to and fro, when the present North London Railway ran only between Chalk Farm and Fenchurch Street, and when there was no service of omnibuses between the various districts? Fares, even when a conveyance could be had, were fares, sixpence or a shilling. Do we not remember the overskirts insisted on by Miss Buss as a protection from the wet, at a time when waterproof clothing was unknown? What dressing and undressing went on round the stove, where Miss Reneau sat with the default list, to put down the name of any too riotous girl! What a delight the giant strides and see-saws were to the athletic young damsels of the period, while the more staid elders waited anxiously for the chance of a turn with the dear head-mistress, who gave up her hour of leisure to talk and walk with us on the playground, and give us a word of sympathy, counsel, or encouragement, or tell some funny story, or teach some new game, sharing her brimming cup of life with us all—ever regardless of her own need of rest!”

From letters at this period we have a glimpse of this young head-mistress at work and at play, both of which she did very thoroughly. The work must have been rather overdone, and we may admire the self-control which is remembered as so marked a characteristic, when we see that it came from real self-conquest. In 1859 she writes to her brother Septimus, speaking of herself and her cousin Maria (Mrs. Septimus Buss)—

“As usual at this period—and, for that matter, at most periods—of the year, we are over-worked. At times I am so irritable I feel inclined to throw things at people, and twice this week I have allowed myself to be provoked into a fit of temper. It is so grievous afterwards to reflect upon. Why was I made so 57gunpowdery? I do think, however, the provocation was very great, though that, of course, is no excuse.”

The next letter is to her father in holiday-time:—

“Dinan, 1860.

“Everything has combined to make this holiday delightful, and I am so well and happy, that I feel as if I was only twenty years of age, instead of a hundred, as I do in Camden Street. I find myself talking slang to the boys, and actually shouting fag-ends of absurd choruses from mere lightheartedness.

“I am very sorry to say that I do not feel any more industrious, though doubtless I shall have to recover from that complaint in London. Also I regret to say that I have to-day incurred the severe displeasure of our wee blue-eyed laddie!”



“You were the sower of a deathless seed,
The reaper of a glorious harvest, too;
But man is greater than his greatest deed,
And nobler than your noblest work were you!”
Emily Hickey.

“I am always thinking of the first time I ever saw her—in the old house in Camden Street, when I was seven years old, a timid child, sent upstairs with a message, which I stood and mumbled at the door. I remember her now—an elegant dark young lady, she seemed to me—with curls and a low-necked dress, as we all had then. She told me to come forward and deliver my message as if I wasn’t frightened; and I remember now how her vigorous intensity seemed to sweep me up like a strong wind. And that is forty-four years ago!”

This graphic sketch, from the pen of Mrs. Alfred Marks, gives us the young head of the new school as she must have looked in 1850, when the first venture in Clarence Road became the North London Collegiate School for Ladies, reconstructed after the lines of Queen’s College, founded two years before.

Among the many appreciative notices with which the entire press of England met the news of the death of one of the foremost educators of the time, none went so straight to the mark as that of a country paper, the Bath Herald, which seized on the most distinctive point of this remarkable personality. After observing that 59it is rare for the influence of a school-mistress to be felt beyond her immediate circle, it thus proceeds—

“There is not a county of her native country, not a colony of its empire, where the news of this death will not have saddened the hearts of pupils and friends.

“When she began her great work the matter of girls’ education was still a ‘question.’ Miss Buss solved it in the most direct and practical fashion; and every college for women, and every high school for girls, is a memorial of her labours. A personality of singular charm, and of what the slang of the day calls ‘magnetism,’ wholly without pedantry or self-consciousness, persuaded Royal Commissioners, City Companies, Lord Mayors and Royal Princesses, physicians, and even Universities, that women might be thoroughly educated without any danger to themselves or the State. To mention her name to any one of the many thousand pupils scattered over the face of the earth, was to raise constantly emotions of affection and pride. Undoubtedly she was one of the ‘pioneers’ of the century, and is secure of a niche in the temples of memory and of fame.”

These words are written at the end of her career, but they were true from the beginning. It is most truly characteristic of her that her power was exercised without self-consciousness. On one occasion I had remarked on her wonderful influence, and find her answer in a brief sentence, after which she turns to some more practical subject with her instinctive distaste for introspection or self-dissection: “What you say about personal influence strikes me curiously. I cannot possibly measure it or even understand it. To a certain extent I am conscious of an influence over young girls, but am not able to explain it.”

To those who knew her well, the explanation comes readily enough as we find her power of impressing others to be the result of the vividness of her sympathy, and of the imagination which, transcending mere personal limitations, is able actually to enter into the life 60of others, no matter how diverse in temperament or in circumstances.

Speaking of her as she was in middle life, Mrs. Marks offers a suggestion full of interest, as she says—

“Her utter spontaneity, her sense of people and things in their living essences, made a very deep and lasting impression on me. And some kind words she said to me—which showed she had seen into my very heart—were a greater encouragement to me than I can express. Their meaning was that she felt I was spontaneous, and had not settled down into conventionality; and as things were very real to me, it was a comfort to know that she too thought them so.”

It was doubtless as a direct consequence of this vision of the “soul of things” that the mere names of things meant so much more to Miss Buss than to most of us, to whom in general a name is the mere husk of the thing it stands for. Seeing through these names as she did, they stood to her for all the living reality of which they were the symbols. With the name, she came into possession of all that went to make up the personality represented by it. Surroundings, time, place, with every other relation, became an inseparable part of any name that once fixed itself in this truly royal memory. To every one who met her it was a standing wonder how she could know so much of the thousands of girls who had passed under her care. That she did know them is a fact that comes into almost every memorial relating to her, from those first simple days when she gave herself without stint to the little band of pupils, up to the very last, when her circle of influence was bounded only by the bounds of the empire itself.

It is not surprising that so many of these girls should bear for life the impress of this strong influence. But still there is something to call for comment in the depth of the feeling thus aroused. Before even the suggestion of approaching death had lifted the veil of 61commonplace, which so often hides from us the beauty of those with whom we walk the dusty path of everyday life, there came, in answer to questions about the “story of the school,” so many reminiscences of the early days, giving the freshness of early enthusiasm, all undimmed by the daily intercourse of nearly fifty years, that one could not but marvel.

Many of those first pupils have remained as teachers, many others have settled in the neighbourhood as friends, and to not a few this deep affection has been the master-passion of their lives. In the wisdom of these later times it is thought well to chill the fervour of the too engrossing devotion to which very young enthusiasts are prone. But nothing seems to have checked the ardour of these early days, while only good has resulted from a love which has moulded so many lives to strength and beauty.

One of the old pupils says of this time—

“She was true, so staunch, so utterly wanting in all the little pettinesses that so often mar even noble characters, that it is no wonder we, her own girls, made a ‘hero’ of her and worshipped her. But it was a noble worship, and killed our selfishness. We wanted not so much her approbation, but to live such lives that, could she know them, might deserve her approval.”

And another, of later date, commenting on the modern repression of youthful enthusiasm, fixes on the point that essentially divides the influence that is only life-giving from that which is sickly and morbid—

“Any devotion roused by her love and care for those brought into contact with her never savoured of this foolish adoration, because her sympathy, though so personal, was in a sense so impersonal and altruistic. She helped people because they wanted help, and not that she might be an absorbing personality to them.”

Of a piece with the selflessness of such ministry is another characteristic mentioned by the same writer—

62“There is one point which always specially struck and helped me, and that was the wonderful way she had of bringing together people who would help each other by virtue of her sympathetic insight into character. Many most fruitful friendships must owe their origin to her loving thought. Even when, from the fulness of her own life, she was unable, to the same extent in the small details, to ‘mother’ all her ‘children,’ yet she always had some friend or ‘other child’ ready to go on with what she had begun.”

How she could keep to her old friends, when the pupil grew up to closer intimacy, is shown in one of the letters written to me while she was still amongst us. It is also touching in the light it throws on her relation to the sanctities and sorrows of quiet home-life, and what she could be to those who needed her. It is happy to remember that in the lovely home of this dear pupil-friend the beloved teacher found rest and refreshment in many a weary time; and we may thank Mrs. Pierson for this glimpse into that deeper life, of which she writes from a full heart—

“It is not often that ladies contend for the honour of age, but Miss Begbie and I have had one or two friendly squabbles as to which of us is the elder ‘old pupil.’ I think it was the second term of the opening of dear Miss Buss’ school, in 1850, that I became one of her happy pupils, and from that day to this she has been my loving guide and friend, sharing many deep sorrows and deeper joys. She has been so great an influence in my life that I have always felt I could realize the verse, ‘For a good man some would even dare to die.’

“In those early days we were a comparative handful of girls, and had the benefit of Miss Buss’ society nearly all to ourselves, enjoying the very cream of her young life, intellect, and enthusiasm.

“It was all like fairyland teaching to me, and in the exuberance of my enjoyment, I am obliged to confess that I was a little troublesome, and often managed to upset the equilibrium of the class, bringing upon myself the ordeal of a lecture in Miss Buss’ private room after school. I always went into that room raging like a young lioness, but invariably came out a plaintive 63lamb, vowing never to offend again. In order to comfort and soothe my passionate grief, dear Miss Buss often kept me to tea with her and her pleasant family party, and I fear that that enjoyment had a demoralizing effect upon my good resolutions.

“I was motherless when I first knew Miss Buss, and had been utterly spoilt by an over-indulgent father until he married again a lady quite out of sympathy with a girl of fourteen. I should have turned into a veritable fury, and ended in perdition, if I had not come across the spiritual influence of dear Miss Buss. She supplied every want in my soul, and I gladly gave myself to her loving guidance, often falling, but always encouraged, until in after years I was strong enough to be able to part with life’s best treasures one by one, and to say—

“‘It is well with my husband,
It is well with my child.’

“I could fill a volume with all dear Miss Buss has enabled me to be, to do and to suffer, and with what she has been to me through all—and not to me only, for all the girls of my time worshipped her, and she never of her own accord loses touch with an old pupil. But what I have said will doubtless suffice for your purpose.”

A large volume might indeed be filled with “memories”—extending from those early days till a year ago—of the kindness and sympathy ever flowing out from that time to this. It seemed to me very striking when the same post brought two letters—one dating back to 1850, the other only to 1890—and, spite of the forty years between, telling just the same story.

The one shows us the young teacher standing at the parlour door, “with a kiss for each pupil at the end of the day’s work,” with a “grace of manner and gentle voice” deeply impressing the child to whom for forty-four years afterwards she became “ever a most kind and constant friend, ever ready with sympathy.”

Then comes a picture of a wild, daring girl, dashing to the end of the long garden and back in the rain, on 64her return to be called into the parlour to account for herself. Of the reproof she adds—

“I remember little but its gentleness, and the kind arm round me while it was being given; but, at the end, I was required to promise never to do anything because I was dared to do it. After that Miss Buss led me by a silken thread all through my school-days, though the other teachers often found me headstrong and troublesome.”

There is an account of how Miss Buss ended a standing feud between the girl and “Mademoiselle” by the exaction of a promise from the reluctant pupil that she would set herself to win the French prize. And finally comes the graver side of this happy relation—

“When at the age of thirteen I left school to go abroad, Miss Buss still continued her kindness, writing to me while I was away, and giving me kind welcome on my return. To see her again was always my first thought after the home-greeting.

“After my first trouble she wrote thus to me—

“‘I feel much for you, dear E——. Your experience of life is beginning early, and so is your discipline. Discipline, though wholesome, is never pleasant. And then, when one is young, one’s feelings are so acute. I remember what I went through at your age, and under similar circumstances. Nevertheless, my greater experience than yours, poor child, makes me confess that “tribulation worketh patience.” Amidst all your trials, dear E——, always trust me. I do not intend to let a light thing come between me and “auld lang syne” folks.’”

The second letter is also from one of the madcap order—a wilful, high-spirited bit of mischief, fascinating in her pranks, but often enough a source of real anxiety to her teachers, and even to the dignified head herself, known to this child only when almost worn out with the long strain of school-life and of her heavy public work. But here are words as straight from the child’s heart as from that of the woman who could count back through nearly fifty years of friendship—

65“Jan. 31, 1895.

Dear Miss Edwards,

“There is so much I want to say, but I do not know how to say it. This distance is so awful.

“I think it is because I cannot realize that I shall never see Miss Buss again. If I were near I could realize it better; it seems more like some fearful dream to me.

“I wish I was near you to tell you how deeply I sympathize and share in the sorrow that I know the loss of so kind and true a friend must be to you.

“And how many hundreds of girls will feel the same!

“All the world over there will be hearts aching to think that they will never see Miss Buss again.

“I can but judge others by myself, and I know that it was not till I had left school, and had been out here some time, that I realized more fully what a great blessing had been mine that I had been allowed to know Miss Buss; that, while I was at the age when girls most need loving, firm guidance, I should have had Her for a kind teacher and friend. It will always be to me one of the best and happiest remembrances of my life, for I truly feel it a great honour bestowed on me.”

There will always be the two kinds of girl—the one who is content with the life of the present moment, and the one who “looks before and after,” to whom the present moment is only a fixed point between past and future. In speaking for herself, one of the first kind speaks for many more, as she naïvely says, “I fancy we were too much occupied with ourselves to think much about Miss Buss while we were at school!” The second class speak for themselves in every variety of intensity, but all to the same purpose: “No one can ever know what she was to me. All that I am, and all that I have, I owe to her influence or to her help!” Over and over comes the same cry, in which the blank of present loss foretells the future loneliness bereft of the strength and comfort of the past.

From one of the younger pupils we have again the 66growing sense of what she had less kindly felt at the moment—

“I feel that there are so many women, not in England only, but all over the world, who will rise up to call her ‘blessed.’ As time goes on I more appreciate the training I had under her, and it seems to me now, that but for her influence I could not possibly have fulfilled the home and public duties that have fallen to my lot, and that it has been a pleasure to me to undertake.”

And yet another—

“We who were with her in the impressionable days of our youth must all feel how much we owe her, in the view of life she gave us, and the tone of healthy energy she brought into our lives. I am sure her loss will be as widely felt as that of Arnold by his old pupils long ago.”

To give the experience of all who come back year by year to give a record of their work in hospital ward or East End slum, in home workhouses or foreign missions, would be too heavy a task; but, as illustrative of the wide range of influence exercised in matters social and philanthropic, we may give a letter from one in whom the “Gospel of Work” found an apt disciple.

Mrs. Heberden, one of the first three ladies elected as lady guardians in St. Pancras, was, as Sarah Ward Andrews, one of the pupils of the second decade, dating from 1861, but she has the same record of delight in the teaching and the same devotion to the teacher as those of earlier date. What most impressed her, however, she gives as follows:—

“During my stay Miss Buss’ mother died, and though in great sorrow, she continued all her work. I remember her remark that, ‘Work, originally a curse to mankind, was now a blessing, not permitting us to dwell on our trials and losses.’ From that time Miss Buss was a great factor for all that is best and highest in my life; and when, in 1873, I lived near her in Hampstead, I was brought into active public life by her request. She asked me to 67help in the School Board election of that year, when Miss Chessar and Mrs. Cowell were returned for Marylebone.

“All the great interest I have taken in women’s work began then, encouraged by Miss Buss’ earnest sympathy and advice.

“In 1880 I was elected Poor Law Guardian in St. Pancras, for the ward in which Holy Trinity Church stands, where Miss Buss had attended for a long time. Her name secured me much support; without it, I doubt if I should have been returned, for the opposition to Women Guardians was then very great, and the difficulties enormous. Miss Buss’ counsel was most valuable to me at this time as always, so wise and judicious. ‘Forward, but not too fast,’ was ever her motto.”

Here is another word to the same purpose, from an East End hospital:—

“How many lives will be impoverished now! She was so true and great-hearted. Wasn’t it wonderful how she remembered the details of so many lives? She never treated us collectively. My life would have been so different but for the time spent with her. She prepared many for a sharp wrestle with life’s difficulties. And how she remembered one’s home people too!

“Such a wave of sadness comes over me as I think of her; and yet, what a life hers was to rejoice over! So full and generous. Hers was such a rich loving nature. Surely many, thinking of what she has done, may indeed ‘take heart again!’ If I felt less, I might be able to say more.”

We could go on adding witness after witness in those who have thus loved her. One thing only is more wonderful than this general love, and that is the power of loving to which it all came as response. It is by putting together the impressions of complete satisfaction given to each of these many varying needs, that we finally reach some adequate estimate of this grand personality. Each person in any relation to her, had a special and real place in her regard, just as each child has its own place in its mother’s heart—a place of its very own. In this wide heart there was room for all, and each distinct and distinctly separate. There was 68here no mere jumble of meaningless amiability. The loves and the likings were quite definite. And possibly the dislikings also; but of these no one heard very much. Of hate and scorn there was none for anything but evil itself. Her practice, like her teaching, was “to be merciless to the sin, but very tender to the sinner.”

Almost more telling, in their intensity of regret, than even these thanksgivings for the joy of such a friendship, are the thoughts of one who was “glad just to claim a place among the old pupils” in the crowded church on that sad New Year’s Eve, when every heart in the vast assembly beat in unison in the same love and sorrow. During life there seemed always a vitalizing principle in the influence of the leader thus mourned; and who may measure the latent forces set free in this great wave of feeling?—forces that might help to bring about the hope of these first words—

“As for the public loss, that is greater than we can understand, because we shall never know how much she has done for women till we know how much women will be able to do in the future. But she helped more than women by what she did. She raised the whole standard of life in raising the standard of women’s education.”

And then, in the light of this flash of insight into the greatness of the work, comes a sense of personal loss, in a lament which seems to bear with it the echo of all the sighs of all the women of past ages, who desired and aspired, but yet strove in vain, to break the chains of ignorance that held them bound—chains broken at length by this strong hand!

How many a girl must have inwardly rebelled against the deadening routine of the old conventional schools, though so few had the strength by which this once “timid child” won her own freedom. Measuring 69what have been by the force of that first never-forgotten impression of the “vigorous intensity that swept her up like a strong wind,” her words of regret that her school-life had not been spent under that influence come as among the saddest of the laments of that sorrowful day—

“Thinking it over after she was gone, a perfect agony of regret came over me that I was not always her pupil. In church, that day, the regret was so pregnant that it almost stupefied me.... When I think that Miss Buss was at our very doors, I can scarcely bear to look back. Think of what I might have been saved—the unutterable loneliness of those five years, the misery, the deliberate fostering, of set purpose, of a morbid self-consciousness and self-distrust. Why, I have never got over it! The deadening effect of those five years clings to me still. I consider that it kept me back fifteen years. Instead of leaving school broken-spirited and irresolute, I should have had the inspiration of knowing that I had been part of the great human movement. As it was, I had to grope my way to modern thought.

“I made very few friends at school, and shrunk from all. If I had gone there I should have found a door open into the real life I sought. But, above all, just think of exchanging Miss S—— for Miss Buss!—spontaneity for repression, an honest straightforward ideal of duty, for a system based upon ‘Mason on Self-knowledge’! (That book ought to be burnt by the common hangman.)

“Oh, I thought some bitter thoughts as I sat that day among the old pupils, thankful just to have the right to sit there at all!”

There seems indeed good cause for regret that a nature so sensitive should not have had full room for unchecked growth in the warm sunny atmosphere of this school, when the young teacher was free to throw herself into the lives of her pupils. Freedom of growth—with all the joy of such freedom—forms the great wonder of those early days.

The proof of the true vitality of this growth is in the fact that these early pupils came themselves into 70possession of that power of impressing others which was so distinctive of their teacher.

I was very much struck by this fact when I first heard of Miss Buss from one of these old pupils, Miss L. Agnes Jones, who, though only for a few months under her influence, never lost the impression either of the teaching or of the teacher, so unlike all previous experience. Years afterwards, the time for action found her ready, and she became a potent factor in the first stages of the change that has affected so many lives.

All the “memories” from old pupils bear witness to the same thing, put strongly by one who was afterwards a member of her staff:—

“She was to me a guide, a magnet, leading me on, higher and higher, above all self-seeking, all petty vanities, all ignoble ambitions.... I speak reverently when I say that her whole life seems to me a sort of ladder or pulley to help us up nearer to the Perfect Life lived on earth by our Great Model.”

One example of this life giving influence may be given, belonging to the early days when, through Miss Jones, I also had come within its sphere, and felt its fascination. Up to the day when, in a chance call on one of us, she heard us talk of Miss Buss and her work, Miss Fanny Franks had been quite content and happy as a somewhat exceptionally successful daily governess, appreciated by her pupils and their parents, and taking just pride in the instruction given after her own original fashion. She taught in this way for part of five days a week, and, for the rest, lived a pleasant girl-life at home with her sisters, all undisturbed by educational theories.

One flash of the new inspiration was enough to change all this easy and happy experience into struggle and effort. After the talk on that first day Miss Franks 71had gone straight to Miss Buss and offered her services. “But, my dear, you have had no training! In these days some credentials are necessary,” was the sufficiently discouraging reply. But having now seen Miss Buss for herself, there was no going back for the new adherent. If training were necessary, training must be had. At what cost is shown in her letter—

“Having given up so much to this end, I should be sorry not to go on. By ‘going on’ I mean the examination, and by ‘giving up,’ leaving home and coming to live up here with only books for seven or eight months. This examination and the hard study, and the ill-health and spirits consequent thereupon, are the reasons why I did not take an express-train to London immediately on receipt of dear Miss Jones’ letter, which at any other time would have gladdened me beyond expression. But it is all Miss Buss’ fault. She first inspired me with the idea of an examination. Had it not been for her I should, in happy ignorance, have looked upon myself as a good and capable teacher, not merely in the making—as now—but ready and fit to do whatever she might propose.”

Having been the cause of so decided a change, Miss Buss was too loyal not to do all in her power to make it a success. In her letters to me I find allusions during the whole time which show her thoughtful consideration of the best means to the end. She found a post in the school, and lost no chance of fruitful suggestion. At her wish Miss Franks attended Mr. Payne’s lectures, at the College of Preceptors, on the Theory, History, and Practice of Education, and no one was more pleased when Miss Franks came out as an Associate of the college. Again, when Miss Franks finally discovered her true vocation, Miss Buss arranged to give her two days a week for the Kindergarten experiments, now so supreme a success.

And now, being herself a leader, with her own band of students taking a foremost place in the Kindergarten movement, Miss Franks is only the more loyal to her 72own chosen leader, and among the many expressions of loss come her pathetic words—

“The sad time has come, and we have lost our wonderful friend. Never will there be another Frances Buss! It makes me ache to think of the faithful ones like Miss Begbie, and many others, who have worked under her flag for so many years, and have lost their splendid leader! Ah me! it is a sad time for us all!”



“A mother, though no infant at thy breast
Was nursed, no children clung about thy knee;
Yet shall the generations call thee blest,
Mother of nobler women yet to be.”
To F. M. B.

Just ten years after that picture of splendid vigour which had so taken captive “the timid child of seven,” we have a companion portrait in a not less lasting impression made on a shy girl of seventeen, who after the long lapse of years, thus recalls that first interview—

“You ask me what it is which stands out most clearly in my early recollections of our dear friend. It is nearly thirty-three years since I saw her first, but I always remember her as I saw her then. She was seated at her table (a round table) in what in those days was always called ‘the parlour.’ It corresponded to the ‘office’ of the present day, but with this difference, that Miss Buss was always to be found there whenever she was not occupied with her girls, in teaching or in superintending their work. She was her own secretary, and we all became thoroughly accustomed to seeing her writing there, but ready to lay aside her pen and give her undivided attention to any one who needed it. Indeed, to the best of my recollection, the door always stood partly open. I felt there was something different about her from what I was accustomed to observe in other women. There was such a mingling of motherliness and sweetness with intense earnestness and thoroughness about her work. She was at that time in deep mourning. Her mother had died shortly before, and also the 75Reverend David Laing, under whose wing she had begun, and for several years carried on, her school. The double grief had been felt very keenly, and she had been so ill that her hair was already mingled with grey. I remember the way she dressed it—the front hair being brought down over the ears, and the back rolled under and covered with a black net. Her black dress was plainly made, but fitted well. It was long, and made her look taller than she was.

“I felt attracted to her at once, and, as I got to know her, I found that my first impressions were more than justified by experience.”

The change is very striking from the vivacious and vigorous young head of the new school of 1850 and this grave, kind woman of 1860, a change greater than the mere lapse of time can justify. But the loss of her mother, followed so closely by that of her friend Mr. Laing, who had been the mainstay of all her school career, must have been to her as the uprooting of her very life. To the end she spoke of her mother with the same deep tenderness. She had been friend as well as mother, a double tie that meant so much as the daughter grew to be the helper. Family claims took firm grasp of this loyal nature, and the mother’s death meant also taking her place to the father, left for the time helpless without the all-pervading care that had stood between him and all the minor miseries that loom so large to the artist temperament.

How this trust was fulfilled shows in the daughter’s words when, fifteen years afterwards, this work of love was ended.

“Jan. 3, 1875.

“On Saturday I go away with my father to Worthing. He has been growing more and more feeble, and is a constant source of anxiety. I feel that he needs me, and yet I cannot give up more time to him than can be got on Sunday. But, you see, this means Sunday as well as week-days. If you could peep in on me it would be a pleasure to see your dear face. I think often of you in my hurricane-speed life.”

76“Feb. 11.

“My father is still very ill. It looks as if he were fading away. He is so patient, gentle, and loving to us all, and especially to me, that I can scarcely keep up.”

“Feb. 20.

“My heart is wrung with grief. My dear, dear father is, we believe, sinking. I am going now to him, and shall stay in the house. He likes to have my hand in his, and to speak faintly from time to time of my mother. He tells me I alone can soothe him as she did. He is very peaceful, and suffering no pain, but he is too weak to help himself in the least.”

“Mar. 10.

“I am so sorry to know you are again ill. It makes me sigh. As soon as I can I will call, but I am almost breaking down from nervous prostration.

“My Liverpool journey, though likely to be useful, was trying. It is full of my dear father.

“You cannot imagine how large a blank he has left in my life. Only time can fill it up. He was the one person to whom I was necessary, and to whom my presence always carried pleasure, and I cannot get into the way of remembering that he is not.”

“Mar. 13.

“I am not well. Some old symptoms have returned, though not in a bad form. I can get through the day, but my evenings and nights are distressing. I am in a sort of anguish which does actually seem to affect my heart. Yet I would not recall my dear, dear father if I could. But nature must have some expression, and I really loved him. Besides, I was nearest to him and closest to him! Many things we understand better now.”

Knowing so well the power of a mother’s love, this daughter had grown into that mother’s power of giving herself out, a power that is universally felt as her chief characteristic. Here is a description of her as she was at the time when this portrait is drawn—

“I think, in those early days, it was her sweet and motherly way of drawing each one of us to her, and caring for each particular person’s concerns, and remembering them, which impressed me more than anything else, excepting indeed her very encouraging 77manner. She lost no opportunity of saying a loving word of praise, and it would be accompanied by a motherly hug, which warmed one’s heart for a long time. That comfortable, loving manner was a great power among teachers and pupils. Many a girl who had given trouble in one department or another, would go out of the parlour, after a talk with Miss Buss, thoroughly softened and helped into a right frame of mind.”

This motherly kindness won the devotion of a lifetime from the lonely girl so early called to face the world, and Caroline Fawcett well earned her great privilege of being one of the little band whose love soothed the last hours of the friend who had been so much in their lives. Her latest thought, as she writes on that sad New Year’s Eve, is the same as the first of so many years before—

“But, indeed, it must be a great miss for us, the never being able to go to her for motherly loving sympathy. One of the lights that will go on shining out of her life, and will kindle others, is that loving motherliness. If one could only show a little of it, following in her dear footsteps!”

This aspect of her character impressed even those who had to do with Miss Buss outside her own work. Mr. Garrod, secretary to the Teachers’ Guild, who knew her in her public life, says of her: “To me she seemed to be one who was born to shine as head of a family, and to have the domestic rather than the public excellencies.”

Her school can fairly be regarded as her family, for she may be said to have “mothered” them all—teachers as well as pupils—even in the later days, when public work took so much of her attention. Miss Emily Hickey, one of the visiting professors, who came so much less into contact with her than did the teaching staff, puts this well, as she says of her intense “motherliness”—

78“There is no other word for it. No one brought into any emotional contact with her, could fail to realize this, and one can see how much it must have had to do in binding so fast to her so many women so much younger than she, both in years and in experience.”

Mrs. Marks says also—

“I remember when I saw her again some years afterwards, and I remember how like a mother she seemed to me who wanted a mother so dreadfully. Always after that I thought of her as a sort of universal mother. There are few women like that!”

On reading these words, a pupil of later years adds to them—

“I, too, wanted a mother, and found so much of what I wanted in her. These might have been my own words, and are, indeed, almost identical with what I have said.”

And yet another—

“I have every reason to remember her with tender regard, and to deeply regret her loss. From the fact that I was motherless, she took an especial interest in my studies and health, making my father and myself deeply grateful to her. I more than ever feel what a friend I have lost. Camden Town is very lonely without her.”

Mrs. Marks continues—

“And then the general impression of geniality and life which was always so conspicuous! She was so warm, everything about her was infused with warmth. There was no cold impersonality in any of her thoughts. They were all alive. I need not say how kind she was.”

This kindness was all-inclusive, going down to the least as well as rising to the highest. Among the hundreds of letters of condolence received by Miss Buss’ family was one from the firm which undertook the charge of the school clocks, speaking strongly of the kind and gracious way in which their employés had always been treated.

79And there is a characteristic story of her in connection with her old cabman Downes, who drove her, year after year, to school and to church. On one occasion, hurrying to catch the train to Cambridge, Downes upset his cab, and Miss Buss was extricated without having time to decide whether she was hurt or not, her business being too important to admit of delay. Her first act on reaching her destination was to telegraph to Downes to assure him that she was not hurt.

All records go to show how lasting was her interest in all who made any claim on her, confirming the words of another of her staff, when she says, “Girls, as soon as they left school, felt that they had a friend ever ready to sympathize with them in sorrow or in joy. A happy marriage was a delight to her”—a remark confirmed by a passage in one of Miss Buss’ letters, where she says, “I wish Ada would bring Mr. Z—— to Myra. I like to see my sons-in-law. He cannot be shyer than Mr. Q——.”

Here is a note just after the opening of the new buildings by the Prince and Princess of Wales, written for the wedding-day of one of her pupils—

Dear Mary,

“Just a line to express my love and good wishes for you and yours to-morrow.

“May God bless you in your new state of life! I shall be with you in spirit, and think of you all.

“I hope you have received the little tea-table. The mats for it have been delivered I know, but I am not sure about the table.

“I hope Eleanor will send me a short note to say where you have gone, and to give me some account of to-morrow’s ceremony.

“With my dear love and good wishes,

“Believe me, yours affectionately,

Frances M. Buss.”

To “meet the glad with joyful smiles” would always 80have been easy to her, but she was more often called “to wipe the weeping eyes;” for the words of another of the recent pupils was curiously true—

“Of late years it has often struck me as melancholy that the most successful and happiest of her old pupils, settled in homes of their own, or teaching in schools at a distance, could do little more than send an occasional letter, or pay a flying visit, while numbers of the unsuccessful, the weak and helpless, came back to her for the advice and help she never failed to give. Seeing, as she did, numbers of these, she was very strongly impressed by the absolute necessity for young girls to be trained to some employment by which they might, if necessary, earn a livelihood. For women to be dependent on brothers and relations, she considered an evil to be avoided at all costs, and she tried to keep before us the fact that training for any work must develop a woman’s intellect and powers, and therefore make her—married or single—a better and a nobler being.”

Another friend adds on this point—

“She was so kind and unprejudiced by unconventionality, that she was just as interested and sympathetic and helpful towards an old pupil, who came to her about trying to set up a business (such as dressmaking or millinery), as she was to one going to Girton or trying for a head-mistress-ship.”

As instance of the thoroughness that characterized her efforts to help the girls, one of them gives a little experience which will come home to many a mother, as she recalls the solicitude with which Miss Buss went to any medical consultation needed by delicate girls under her care—

“I left school to become a governess myself, and during my first holiday she made an opportunity for a quiet talk with me, entering into all my plans and difficulties, and helping me greatly by her wise and loving counsel. No effort was too great for her to make, if she could thereby help or benefit any of us. Many years later, when my sister had been under Dr. Playfair’s treatment, he ordered her abroad, and she was to be accompanied by a companion of whom he should approve. Miss Buss not only 81offered to let her join her party, shortly to start for Marienbad, but went herself to see Dr. Playfair at eight a.m. (the only time she was free during term-time), in order that he might be satisfied with her as an escort. This meeting proved a mutual pleasure to them.”

It is pleasant to know that, out of this special thoughtfulness, there came to Miss Buss, not only the companionship in travel, but frequent resting in the happy home of these girls; and also—a very great satisfaction—the gift to the school of the “Crane Scholarship,” to mark their mother’s appreciation of this motherly care of her children.

But the help given so kindly was by no means limited to inspiration, instruction, or advice, carefully and considerably as this might be thought out for each separate case. Where the means of acting on her suggestions were wanting her sympathy expressed itself in more tangible terms. I remember, one day, after discussing ways and means in some instance of this sort, stopping short, and saying to her, “Do you know how many girls you are helping at this moment?” In the most matter-of-fact way she answered reflectively, “Well, I could scarcely say, without going into the question!” Occasionally she would ask help of some one of a little band of friends willing to give it—often of Miss Laura Soames—so soon to follow her—and of Miss Edith Prance, and others. But more often than not she said nothing about it, generally taking it on herself. When the school had been her own this was easy enough, but in a public school the fees must be paid even by the head-mistress herself. She was, however, free to please herself as to the help she gave at Myra Lodge, and those who may have made calculations of the income derived from the pupils there, might, if they had known all, have found themselves far from accurate in their sum total.

82Here is a little story from far-away times, showing not only her burdens, but that still rarer gift, her unwavering steadfastness to an obligation once taken up—

“Among her friends was one family whose means were not in full proportion to the large-heartedness which made the good mother decide to keep as her own a little motherless baby, which she had taken in during its mother’s fatal illness. Not only did her own little daughters welcome the baby sister, but even the over-worked father accepted without a murmur the sleepless nights which were a small part of his contribution to the new-comer. As soon as Miss Buss heard the story she said at once, ‘And I must do my part. Her education shall be my care!’”

—a care that lasted beyond school-days, and included the finding of a fitting occupation for later life.

Still another record may be added as typical of so many more; a story none the less touching for the humorous way in which it is told—

A Short Tribute from ‘A Lame Dog.’

“The work of ‘helping lame dogs over stiles’ is not recognized publicly or read on the list amongst the various names of the good works and societies with which our dear Miss Buss was connected, and probably only the ‘Lame Dogs’ themselves know what a kind strong hand helped them to climb the dreaded barrier; but surely among the many thousands who call themselves ‘Old North Londoners,’ or ‘Bussites,’ there is a long roll-call of such silent work, deeply graven upon the hearts of those who, like myself, know.

“The first morning on which I took my place in the class-room among several other new-comers introduced me individually to Miss Buss, for on hearing my name mentioned she called me to her and asked how it was spelt. This impressed me very much at the time, as I was the only one upon whom this honour was conferred, and my surname was hardly one to deserve special attention.

“As time went on, however, the little extra notice was sufficiently explained, for I discovered that another family in the school bore 83a name nearly similar to my own, and indeed, throughout my school-life, I was constantly being congratulated upon honours never won, and credited with talents really possessed by the happy bearer of the other name.

“This incident doubtless might appear to be trivial and insignificant to many, but to one nervously entering a new sphere of life this was not so; from that moment I felt I was known to the head-mistress as having a separate individuality, although insignificant enough among so many.

“A few years went on, and school-days passed happily enough, without my having any special intercourse with Miss Buss, until, owing to an unexpected crisis in affairs at home, it was suddenly arranged for me to leave.

“Then it was that I really began to know our dear head-mistress, and to realize what she was to her girls, and how much she cared individually for each one.

“On a memorable morning for the second time she called me out to have a chat with her, and fully discussed my future. She pointed out the drudgery incumbent upon one who was only inefficiently educated, and upon finding that my personal desire was to have studied more thoroughly, she insisted most strongly upon my remaining at school for another year.

“I held no scholarship, neither, as affairs then stood, could I receive any help from home.

“All remonstrance was immediately swept aside. Miss Buss offered to pay all school fees from her own pocket until I had earned at least a matriculation certificate. She also insisted upon my joining the gymnasium classes, which at that time were enjoyed by those only who paid additional fees.

“How could such kindness be refused? From that time work was sacred, and as the terms flew by and the examination loomed in the near future, failure became the one evil in the world most to be dreaded. When the good news at last came out, and Miss Buss, as excited over the result as the expectant candidates, warmly congratulated us, she seemed to let each one know, in a way peculiarly her own, what the pleasure or pain really meant to her; to myself, having worked under high pressure, her silent sympathy may be better understood than explained.

“She trusted us so thoroughly.

“My debt was never mentioned in any way by her, and it was only on repaying the loan she told me she was glad to have the money back, as she could then help others in a similar way.”

84And there are so many who, like the writer of this story, also know, though what they know is known to themselves alone. But still, even from such vague hints as have come to them, many intimate friends can echo Eleanor Begbie’s exclamation, as she ended an interesting talk about the early days, “No one will ever know, on this side of the Day of Judgment, how many girls owe all their education to Miss Buss!”






“The old order changes, giving place to new.”

My first remembrance of Miss Buss—dating from October, 1870—is one that will come up very vividly to all who remember her Tuesdays’ “at home,” at Myra Lodge, and who will recall her gracious way of advancing, with outstretched hand and welcoming smile, to meet her friends.

There was a touch of ceremoniousness in her reception of strangers that made this smile seem all the sweeter, dispelling a certain awe excited by the presence and dignity, the sense of power and purpose, which were there as the natural outcome of the habit of rule from her childhood upwards. She was rather below than above middle height, but she always gave an impression of being taller than she was in reality.

No one could be with her in any close relation without speedily knowing how really kind she was, and, after a very short acquaintance, it was quite easy to believe the story that as Miss Buss made the announcement of one of the first passes with honours, the delighted student, in the exuberance of the joy at this success, seized the dignified head-mistress, and whirled her round in an impromptu waltz, ending without doubt in one of those loving embraces which gave so much warmth 88to school-life; a warmth that carried her so happily through so many long years of incessant strain.

The heavy responsibilities and many cares of her arduous life always made Miss Buss look older than her years, even before she adopted the distinctive style of dress which, though never out of the fashion, had still a speciality of its own, which always made it seem appropriate. She acted up to her theory that each person should take pains to discover the style most suitable, and then, having found it, should keep as near to it as possible. This she herself did, contriving at the same time to keep in touch with prevailing fashions. Her gowns were always well made—for school and for mornings of some strong serviceable black material, with a simple collar and cap. For receptions, prize-days, and evenings, she wore rich silk or satin, with cap and fichu to match of real lace—her one cherished “vanity.” She had a weakness for good lace, not forgotten by her friends on anniversaries, so that she acquired a good store of this valued possession. For ornaments she did not care enough to buy them for herself, though as gifts she appreciated them sufficiently. It was a matter of principle with her that it is no less the pleasure than the duty of every woman to make the very best of her appearance; a duty especially incumbent in those days on all who held any views which could be called “advanced.” As Mrs. Marks says of her, “there was about her an entire absence of peculiarity. Never any one seemed less eccentric, and it was impossible for the most rabid opponent of woman’s rights to say that she was ‘unsexed.’”

And just as she had a woman’s regard for her appearance, she also cared about her house. The drawing-room of 1870 was not yet what it was later—one of the first finished specimens of decorative 89household art. That came years afterwards, with her full success. But even before that era, though it might be simple and old-fashioned, it was certain to be tasteful, and as artistic as was then possible.

In my very first talk with Miss Buss we touched at once at the point on which she felt most deeply. I had been interested in the question of employment for women, having written some papers for the Art Journal on the “Art-work Open to Women,” in which I had come to the conclusion that here, as everywhere, the chief obstacle to success lay in the want of education and of training. A paper read by Dr. W. B. Hodgson at the Social Science Congress, held in Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1870, followed by an able discussion, had proved the connecting link between the question of employment and that of higher education, and I then recalled all I had heard from my friend Miss Jones about Miss Buss’ schools and their new developments.

After the Newcastle meeting I received the following note from Miss Buss, which shows how things stood at that date:—

“12, Camden Street, Oct. 18, 1870.

Dear Madam,

“At Miss L. A. Jones’ request, I forward you four proofs of our appeal. What we now want is funds.

“As you will see, our list of subscriptions is very small. The paper is as yet only a proof, because we cannot circulate largely any statement, until the lease of the new house is actually signed.

“When you return to town, I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you. Agnes has often spoken of you to me, and I am glad to know you are interested in our plans.

“If we can get one school for girls well started, the ice will be broken, and many others will be set up in imitation.

“If you wish for further information, or for more copies of the proof, I shall be glad to give you either.

“Believe me,

“Very truly yours,

Frances M. Buss.”

90Pleased as I was with this first communication from one whom I had already learned to admire, I could have no inkling of all it would mean for me in the future, as the beginning of a friendship which steadily deepened through the four and twenty years that followed; a friendship which can only go on deepening after we cease to count by days or years, since it is of the kind not begun for any ending.

As I left her that day the feeling of her life went with me in my impression of the grief it had been to her, just as her pupils began really to profit by her teaching, to be compelled to give so many of them up. Social reasons, family reasons, financial reasons, no reason at all—anything, in those days, was sufficient excuse for ending a girl’s education. But, nevertheless, year by year, these same girls came back, under the pressure of some unforeseen need, or even in the ordinary course of things, as their fathers death broke up the family, to ask their teacher’s advice how they might gain a livelihood, and to rack her tender heart with the hopelessness of their lot. Half-educated, wholly untrained, what could they do? They could do nothing. What she could do for them as individuals was utterly inadequate, though she never failed to do whatever might lie in her power. But each separate case that came before her made her the more resolute to help them, as a whole, by giving them the greatest good of all—a thorough education.

It is quite in keeping that the crowning work of her life should be the outcome of the passion of helpfulness, in which this full mother-heart poured itself out. She was a born educationalist, a teacher with the whole bent of her nature, and she must in any case have devoted herself to the task of making education a science. But her great schools were the work not of 91her head, but of her heart, having their rise in her feeling for the half-taught girls who were compelled to teach for a livelihood. With her head she gave them the instruction and training that would best help to this end. Then with her heart she made the gift doubly precious, since she gave them not merely the means of living, but also a life worth living; they were fitted for work, but, in the inspiration of her own life, she made it work worth the doing; work that enriched the world as well as the worker. It was her aim that teaching should cease to be a mere trade—so many hours grudgingly given for so much pay—and that it should take its true place as foremost among the “learned professions,” in which excellence of work, and not work’s reward, is the object of ambition.

From the time of her interview with the Commissioners in 1865, the idea of making a public school for girls had been growing in her thoughts, and, five years later, several of her own personal friends who shared her feeling agreed to form a trust to ensure the permanence of the system worked out with so much care.

The trust-deed was signed on July 26, 1870, by the Rev. Charles Lee, who had succeeded the Rev. David Laing, at Holy Trinity, and by Dr. M. A. Garvey and Mr. W. Timbrell Elliott. The Rev. A. J. Buss, who acted as honorary secretary, and the Rev. S. Buss were also members of the Trust.

During the ensuing week the number was increased by the addition of Mrs. Wm. Burbury, Mr. T. Harries, and Dr. Storrar, a member of the Schools Inquiry Commission. During the next six months the Board was increased by the election of Dr. Thorold, Mr. W. Danson, Mrs. Offord, Miss Ewart, Miss Vincent Thompson, and myself.

Translated into plain fact, this trust-deed represents 92the transfer by Miss Buss to the public of the results of twenty years’ labour. The school was her own property, being merely under friendly supervision from the St. Pancras’ clergy. The income was at her own disposal, and out of school she was free to cultivate all the refined tastes with which she was so richly endowed.

Until 1866 Miss Buss had remained with her father in Camden Street, making no change in her life since her girlhood, and not even having a banking account of her own. It had not occurred to any one that in making the money she had any special right to it.

In this year it became desirable for her health that she should live away from the school, and as Mr. Buss could not be induced to remove from Camden Street, he remained there, in the care of a relative, while Miss Buss went for a time to Mr. and Mrs. Septimus Buss, in Maitland Park. But in 1868 it seemed necessary to prepare for the coming changes, and she then took Myra Lodge, to which she removed the boarders who had been under her supervision, though in the charge of Miss Mary Buss and Miss Fawcett, at 15, Camden Street. She had to be prepared with some alternative in case of failure; for on all sides she was warned against a venture so rash as to be almost hopeless. Who was likely to send girls to a “public school”? To make the experiment meant that the old school—the work of so many years, and now a splendid success—must go. What, then, would be left?

Success would mean the realization of the desire of her life—that success which came at last after nine years of effort—success beyond all hope. But in 1870 the experiment was more than doubtful, and the chance of failure had to be boldly faced. She did not hesitate, and gave herself to the labour of the new organization, with its anxiety, struggles, and all the chances of failure. 93After having been all her life her own mistress, she put herself under rule, and in addition to the loss of personal freedom, she risked a present certainty, and the prospect of future affluence, to accept for the next three years a greatly diminished income with doubled or trebled work; giving up at the same time assured honour and widespread reputation for misunderstanding, suffering, and disappointment.

A letter written at the close of 1871, after a year of struggle, shows how keenly she could feel these things—

“I am beginning to feel very hard and bitter. Were it not for that Anchor to which alone one can cling, I should sometimes lose all hope and faith. One gentleman, who can well afford £5, who is largely mixed up with education, responds, in answer to an appeal for that small sum, ‘Let Miss Buss do it; she has been making heaps of money for years’! This is the general view, and is one reason why I told you my name did no good, but rather the reverse. At any time within the last ten years, having even then a large connection and some reputation, I could have ‘made money;’ but how? By taking a grand house, a small number of ‘select’ pupils, offering fashionable accomplishments, and asking high terms. In that case there would have been little work and plenty of money! Even now, if I cut myself off from the public schools, and lived in Myra Lodge, devoting myself to twenty pupils, I could ‘make’ a good income, and live the life of an independent lady!

“But as I have grown older the terrible sufferings of the women of my own class, for want of good elementary training, have more than ever intensified my earnest desire to lighten, ever so little, the misery of women, brought up ‘to be married and taken care of,’ and left alone in the world destitute. It is impossible for words to express my fixed determination of alleviating this evil—even to the small extent of one neighbourhood only—were it only possible. If I could do without salary I would; but it is literally true—although this is of course to you only—that I have to earn about £350 or £400 per annum before there is anything for my own expenditure. This house has been a great burden, but I hope it will pay in time; I could not have surrendered the other place if I had not had this, and that is why I undertook it.

94“You see I, too, am growing very confidential!

“What work can do I have honestly tried to do. Money I have never had to give, and if I had earned money as mentioned, I should never have had the experience of numbers and consequent sympathy.

“Pray destroy this note, and bury its contents in silence. You can never know how much hope you have given me, as well as practical help.”

Expecting that I should in the future write the story of this work, I thought myself justified in not obeying this request, as now in breaking the silence of four and twenty years.

Miss Buss began to work at eighteen, and worked till she was sixty-eight, and she was one of the most successful women of her time; but surprise is expressed that she could leave behind her the sum of £18,000. Considering that her personal wants were very few, and that for nearly twenty years she had £1300 a year from the school (£100 a year and capitation fees) and from Myra Lodge not less than £2500, the wonder rather is that she did not leave a great deal more. It is evident that she must have spent largely, and it is certain that this expenditure was not on herself.

As a point of principle—that good work should receive good pay—the salaries in the Upper School are higher than in most schools.[5] As a matter of principle 95also Miss Buss thought it right to make provision for old age, as she did not mean to accept the pension which would have been offered. And considering what she had been having, as well as the accumulated claims of her generous life, this provision can surely not be called extravagant.

5.  “Some time ago I had occasion, on behalf of a joint committee of head-mistresses and assistants of which I was a member, to make a careful inquiry into the salaries of assistants, in the girls’ public day schools, both endowed and proprietary. In the course of this inquiry it came out that the North London Collegiate School is able to afford, and does pay a higher average salary than any other of those from which we obtained statistics.... The Camden School also held its own, with salaries well above the means of those obtaining in schools of its type.

“I agree in desiring the average salary to be much higher than it is for assistant-mistresses and assistant-masters too. But I claim for the great leader who has passed from amongst us, that in this matter she has given the true lead.”—Letter from Mrs. Bryant, Educational Times, March, 1895.

But in 1870 she had not begun to save on any large scale. And for the next three years her gifts to the new movement were out of all proportion to her receipts, while she was credited with the possession of means that were non-existent, as well as with a salary which she declined to take, knowing that the money was needed for working expenses.

Myra Lodge, though at first an anxiety, was before long not merely a success, but also a help to the school. In a note written at the end of 1873 Miss Buss remarks—

“It seems that I have paid from Myra, in fees (paid by her for her boarders), just about £850 in these three years: £200, £232, and £410, and I have received in all (from the school) £1600. So your head-mistress has not been a costly article!”

Counting the value of furniture, as well as the balance of salary not accepted, Miss Buss gave during this period not less than £1000, besides paying the £850 in fees from Myra. After the removal of the Upper School from 202, Camden Road, as the lease was still in her possession, she supervised a Preparatory School, the profits of which—£1500 in all—she handed over to the governing body, thus supplying funds for the gymnasium. Nor was this all; she made in addition to these gifts several very helpful loans, without which the work must have come to a standstill. Early in 1873 an entry on the minutes records the thanks of the Governors—

“The Board wish to record their strong sense of the generosity 96and public spirit shown by Miss Buss, when she last year pressed the Board to take on mortgage the ground and building in Sandall Road, for the enlargement of the North London Collegiate School, and when, in March last, she proposed that a considerable sum should be laid out in enlarging the building in Sandall Road; Miss Buss in both cases sacrificing the additional income which would have been hers, and undertaking at the same time still greater responsibility and harder work.”

Under the new scheme Miss Buss’ own school remained as the Upper School, but was removed to 202, Camden Road, leaving the former premises in Camden Street, with most of the furniture and “school plant,” for the new Lower School, of which the fees were fixed at £4 4s. per annum, for a thorough education up to the age of sixteen years.

All the provisions of the scheme were in accordance with those proposed by the Endowed Schools Commission, and it was intended that the fees should meet only the working expenses, the buildings being supplied by some endowment. For the Lower, or Camden School, the sum of £5000 was considered sufficient, and it was not unnaturally imagined that this moderate amount might be supplied by the same generous public which had given £60,000 for a similar school for boys. For the Upper School only £1000 was asked to supply the furniture left behind in Camden Street, for the use of the Lower School.

In September, 1871, Miss Buss says of the Camden School—

“No furniture has been paid for at all; the school is poorly supplied, and the teachers are badly paid. Instead of being rent free, we pay £115 per annum, and rates, amounting at least to £20 more.

“It is clear to me that all such schools need—First, to be rent free; second, to have an endowment, largish or small, to keep the buildings in repair and to offer scholarships; third, to have all the school furniture and fittings given. Then, but not 97till then, can the teachers be fairly paid, and the trustees free from anxiety. For such a purpose, I imagine five or six thousand pounds are wanted—say, £4000 for building, £1000 for furniture, apparatus, and the rest for repairs, etc.

“For the Higher School the same kind of thing is wanted, only on a more extensive scale, as furniture and fittings must be more expensive. The higher fees would still be required to meet the demand for higher teaching. According to my notions, gymnasiums are needed for every school, and large places for swimming.”

But at the first start how natural it seemed to expect the small amount of help which should do so much! “What we now want is funds!” And those very modest sums then formed the total of this requirement. She asked no more for the fulfilment of that early dream, “I want girls educated to match their brothers.” Everything was there except the funds. The educational system had been tested by experience and stamped by success; the teacher, fitted at all points, was ready for work. Friends were ready with time and thought to help in carrying out the work. Having thus all the important essentials, who could doubt that the rest must follow?

In our own enthusiasm for Miss Buss and her work it seemed to Miss Jones and to me that all that was needed was to make the case known. We were both accustomed to the use of our pens, and placed ourselves at Miss Buss’ service, beginning first by an appeal to our own personal friends, with enough of success at the outset to justify our going on. But we soon discovered that beyond this range things were of a different order.

I had seen so much of the kindness shown by Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall to all sorts of philanthropic effort that I fully counted on their help. In addition to the Art Journal, Mr. Hall was editor of Social Notes, and Mrs. Hall had not given up the St. James’ Magazine; so that we saw here our way to a wider public.

98The reply to my appeal seems worth giving in extenso, as a measure of the public opinion of that day. If a woman who had made her own mark on the world in ways out of the beaten track, could so write, what must have been the feeling of the average woman, to say nothing of the narrowminded and ignorant? Mrs. Hall was, besides, amongst the foremost who showed interest in higher education in being one of the earliest of the lady-visitors at Queen’s College.

Here is the letter—

“15, Ashley Place, Oct. 31, 1870.

My dear Annie,

“I dare say you learned a good deal at the Social Science meetings. But women have no business on platforms. They have enough, and more than they can accomplish, in performing the duties which God and Nature have assigned them....

“I too am most anxious to find employment for women, and would give every female, rich or poor, a trade—call it a profession if you like—so that she could help herself. But this is not to be done by sending her to College Examinations.

“There are not a greater set of ‘muffs’ and extravagant fellows in life than our College lads. It is not by them that the business of life is carried on. Do you want to educate girls in the ‘arts’ as practised in the Universities?

“I have no fault to find with the arrangements of the Lower School, except its incompetence to provide the means which will enable women to exist. They should be taught trades—painting on glass and china; hair-weaving; certain branches of watchmaking (as abroad); confectionery; cooking—each half-dozen going into training for this at least once a week; clear-starching;—trades, in fact. When I was a girl I went down once a week into the housekeeper’s room to see how jellies and blanc-mange, soups, and pastry were made; to learn the quantities and help to do all she did.

“This did not prevent my accomplishments going on; or my riding and enjoying all the amusements a country girl could have.

“If a revolution came I know I could have found pupils to teach French and music to. I could have made a good nurse, or housekeeper, or clear-starcher.

99“I would also have every boy and girl learn the Latin grammar first, or at the same time as the English. In law-copying, for instance, which young women should be trained in later, knowledge of Latin is invaluable.

“No; dear Mrs. Laing never told me of Miss Buss’ new plans. She is really so good and right-thinking a woman that I wonder how she would give the sanction of her practical name to any plan embracing ‘College Examinations,’ by way of making women useful or bread-earning members of society. Better, more useful education in what can be more practically useful, without being unsexed, is what they want, but are not likely to get while such women as Emily Faithfull lead the van.

“I saw some time ago you were restless and uncertain on the question of Woman’s Rights, which might almost be defined as Man’s Wrongs. Your head would work you up at one of the Cambridge Examinations, and now and then work up a clever woman, but what good was to arise from that if a revolution came I cannot understand!

“I should, indeed, be astonished if your father ‘went in’ for College Examinations for girls!

“I hope you will not endeavour to enlist X——’s sympathies in College Examinations for women. Dear darling! any strong-minded notions would be a source of trial to her admirable husband, and do her no good.

“I am sorry you have taken up this matter.

“Yours sincerely,

A. M. Hall.

“I shall have a great deal more to say on this matter hereafter, if I live.”

This letter was as discouraging as it was unexpected. But I bided my time. Happily, Miss Jones had succeeded better. She not only received a donation of £30 from Miss Caroline Haddon, but Mrs. Offord, Miss Haddon’s sister, became a member of the Board, and by her practical knowledge gave a sympathy most helpful to Miss Buss. Hearty adherence had also been secured from Mr. E. C. Robins, a successful architect, who made schools his spécialité. Both Mr. and Mrs. Robins proved valuable friends to Miss Buss’ work, as 100they have since done to the Hampstead High School, to the New Technical Schools, and the Hampstead Branch of the Parents’ Union, started by themselves.

Mr. Robins first of all demanded a personal statement of her needs from Miss Buss, as he said—

“We are interested in her; in her experience; in her aspirations;—we want to know her ultimate aims. We want a sketch contrasting what is provided for middle-class boys with what is provided for middle-class girls; also how this particular scheme is likely to effect the desired result.”

This paper was accordingly drawn up, with Miss Buss, Mrs. Robins, Miss Jones, and myself as honorary secretaries, and we confidently expected to get the £1000 which was then the modest limit of our hopes.

Soon after this all the friends of the movement were gathered together at a drawing-room meeting at Myra Lodge, that they might see Miss Buss, and hear from herself of her plans. Her notes at this time are in curious contrast with those written nine years after in the height of her fame—

“Nov. 20, 1870.

My dear Miss Ridley,

“Many thanks for your note; you have worked hard and successfully. I have invited several people, but as yet the number of acceptances only amount to fourteen.

“Mrs. De Morgan is interesting people in one plan.

“I hardly think we ought to ask Miss Garrett just now; she is almost worn out with meetings, having been obliged to attend two and even three a day, since the election excitement began.

“My notion is to get a mixed meeting, in Camden Street, the week after next, and then we can have speeches from the gentlemen.

“I am hopeful about next Wednesday’s meeting; the thing is to interest women, and to convince some of them of the necessity of schools for girls. Then to answer as far as possible any objections so that they may be armed to meet them.

101“I have to go to a Council meeting in Queen’s Square, so am rather hurried.

“Yours sincerely,

Frances M. Buss.”

“Myra Lodge, Dec. 1, 1870.

Dear Agnes,

“Will you and Miss Ridley make up a list of the names and addresses of the ladies present at our meeting yesterday? Your lists and mine will probably complete the number.

“Were you content? I thought it a great success to have so many ladies. Including everyone, there must have been forty-two or forty-three.

“There had been a meeting of trustees yesterday, when it was decided that we should hold a parents’ meeting at Camden Street next week, and a public meeting in the Vestry Hall the week after. That is why I could not announce a meeting for next week.

“With love and best thanks,

“I am, yours affectionately,

Frances M. Buss.”

Certainly the thing then needed was “to interest women” generally in the subject. There were, of course, a certain number of women deeply interested in everything relating to the status of women, educational or political. But at that special time these two groups were fully occupied, the one with Miss Davies’ new venture at Hitchin, and the other with Miss Garrett’s election on the School Board. These two ladies themselves took full interest in Miss Buss’ plans, as she did in theirs. But they all needed funds from the outside public, and demand and supply were far from being equal.

Public opinion in 1870 was very much what it had been in 1849, and to most persons the stir about improved education for women seemed very unnecessary. Most women were quite satisfied with their own girls, and did not trouble about the rest; and till women 102cared about the subject, it could scarcely be expected that men would rouse themselves. Thus, out of London’s millions those really concerned in this question might be counted by hundreds, and persons who for objects that really interested them would give hundreds, or even thousands, thought themselves very generous if they gave units or tens to the new movement.

Nothing could show more clearly the indifference of the public to higher education than the insignificance of the details of the work of the next two years. They may, however, be worth noting, on the principle on which the mother treasures the baby-shoes once belonging to the strong man, who, since those first uncertain efforts, has left deep “footprints in the sands of time.”

The year 1870 ended with what was then a very great and important event—one of the very first public meetings concerning the education of girls—held at the St. Pancras Vestry Hall, under the presidency of Lord Lyttelton. Very considerable interest seemed to be excited in the larger world outside the immediate circle of friends, and hopes rose. One important practical issue came immediately in the addition to the governing body of the Rev. A. W. Thorold, Vicar of St. Pancras (afterwards Bishop of Rochester and of Winchester). Both in his official capacity, and as having been a member of the Schools Inquiry Commission, Dr. Thorold was a most valuable supporter of the work.



“It never yet did hurt
To lay down likelihoods and forms of hope.”

With the success of this first public meeting, it was hoped that the tide had turned. On February 15, 1871, a drawing-room meeting at the house of Mr. E. C. Robins gave still further encouragement. I had prepared a paper, entitled “Pearl and Sea-foam,” contrasting the solid work of the education given to boys with the evanescent glitter of that thought to be sufficient for girls, and giving an account of Miss Buss’ work and aims.

A good discussion followed, in which many persons interested in education took part. The immediate result was the active adhesion of Mr. John Neate, who undertook to interest some of the City Companies. This was a real advance. Hitherto there had been a general agreement that “something ought to be done,” and that “somebody ought to do it;” but it was also generally agreed that “somebody else” was responsible for action in the matter, and we had not yet found this very essential personage. The discovery was now made that in the City Companies, which had done so much for boys, we should without doubt find all that could be desired.

104The prospect did indeed seem hopeful. We had already on our own governing body a member of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in Mr. W. Timbrell Elliott. Our new friends, Mr. Robins and Mr. Neate, belonged to the Dyers’ and the Clothworkers’ Companies, and all three gentlemen became, within a short time, the Masters of their respective Companies. We had, however, to wait quite till the end of the year before the first large donation of £100 from the Fishmongers’ Company set the example, afterwards followed by the Brewers’ and the Clothworkers’ Companies in the gift of the school-buildings.

Mr. Robins printed the first copies of “Pearl and Sea-foam,” which were found useful in our next effort to secure £500 in £5 donations, for the barely necessary furniture in the two schools. Miss Buss had left the greater part of her furniture in Camden Street, and had gone to an empty building at 202, Camden Road; but about this time she writes—

“If we could raise £500 in addition to what we have, I think we might, for the present, let the North London Collegiate School go on alone.

“The first thing next term will be to apply to City Companies for the Camden School.

“I am very busy, as you can guess, and you will not mind this work.

“I could send such a statement to some people, I think. But I would suggest that the whole trouble should fall on you, by your giving your name and address as Hon. Sec., or receiver, or anything you like. Any names I obtained I would send to you.”

“March 23.

“What a very nice woman that Australian lady must be! Somehow I have been in a depressed or out-of-tune condition all day, and now—faithless that I am—your note comes to cheer me up and give me fresh hope. How wonderful is the all-prevailing law of compensation! Sunshine and shade vary our days.”

105“March 27.

“The City people are not to be moved to do anything that is not in the City. Honour and glory follow there, so there they will work.

“Mr. Rogers is about to open his school, and when it is done, it will be published, with a flourish of trumpets, ‘See what the City does! It inaugurates a new era,’ etc. But, after all, what matters it if the work is done?

“Mr. Rogers has already been attacked, I assure you. I went straight off to Mr. Jowett, some time since, to strengthen him, if necessary, by arguments in behalf of girls.

“Miss Davies helps me as much as she can, but her energies, interests, hopes are all centred in the College. She cannot well beg for two different things at one time, and it is for this reason that she is not one of our trustees.

“There are three City men who have in their hands a capital sum of £30,000—half of this is to be spent on a girls’ school in the City.

“Nothing but an organized opposition through the Charity Commission will make them do anything else. £15,000 on one school, and that in the City, where it is not wanted, especially if Mr. Rogers’ school be opened! I mean to try and get a grant out of them—they have given three grants, each of a thousand, to Mr. Rogers—but, you will see, they will give another thousand to him for his girls’ school, and they will give nothing to us, because we are not in the City.

“Here we begin with nothing—in the Camden School, at all events. We must work on and get publicity, then we may get money.”

“March 27, 1871.

“Mrs. Grey’s letter came to-day. You will see that her paper may help us a little, but not very much. I have no idea as to an ‘advocate.’ Dr. Hodgson is at Bournemouth—Mr. Cooke Taylor I know nothing of—Mr. Lee is the only person I can think of now, and there are several reasons against asking him. Between now and the 31st could we not get some one to pay us a visit and speak up for us?

“I will send Mrs. Grey your paper, but I rather think she had a copy.

“My holiday trip was delightful....

“Will you tell me when we meet whether you would consent to become one of ‘my’ trustees?”

106“May 9, 1871.

“How brave and earnest you are! It is such a comfort to me! You can have no idea of what work and worry I have to face, and almost single-handed.

“Please accept my proposal to become a trustee. Your help will be invaluable to me and to the Cause, and, as a trustee, you can say and do much more for us.

“Let me know if you accept.”

“May 23, 1871.

“I want to see you very much. You were unanimously elected a member of our Board yesterday, and were also, at my request, put on the Memorial Committee, which is to deal with the question of applications for money from Companies, etc.

“I have written to ever so many people, but have no more names. We have got a list of the Companies, of their clerks, of their styles, ‘Worshipful,’ etc.

“The £5 collection was well received yesterday when I mentioned it at our meeting, and the list has gone to the printer. I am really quite hopeful about it.

“There are 112 girls in the Camden Schools now, and I want you to write, if you can, to Irwin Cocks, Esq. (or Cox?), editor of the Queen, 346, Strand, stating what we are doing, how we have started this school, etc. He would probably insert it, and then a friend, Miss Chessar, would write a short leader about it. It seems rather too bad to trouble you, but I really am too overdone with the inner work of the two schools to be able to do much in the outer work.

“Mrs. Laing will put our papers into Mrs. Craik’s hands, to-morrow—D. M. Muloch, I mean.

“Can you tell me for certain what is Sir John Bowring’s Company? We must begin with that.”

Lady Bowring had gone over the schools with me, and, like all who saw them, was charmed with her visit. She had promised to secure Sir John Bowring’s interest with his own Company and with the Gilchrist Trust. From the latter help came in scholarships.

But of the uses of “Pearl and Sea-foam” none gave me so much satisfaction as this letter from Mrs. S. C. Hall—

107“April 6, 1871.

My dear Annie,

“If it please God to prolong my days and my ability to work, after I have been able, by my exertions, to add a small additional ward to the Great Northern Hospital, my present impression is that I should like to help the educational plan of Miss Buss. But I never could devote my heart to two things at once, and that Great Northern Hospital is what I shall work and beg for—and nothing else—during the next year. I hate bazaars, but there is no other way that I know of to get the necessary funds—except a concert—and, at present, I can only grope my way.

“Mr. Ruskin has not been here since Christmas, but I can say anything to him, now that I know him so well; and, after I have had some hospital talk with him, I will give him your ‘Foam,’ and ask him to see Miss Buss’ schools.

“He is most charming. It always does my heart good to see him playing with the dogs on the hearthrug. Oxford takes up a good deal of his time. Miss Hill looks after his cottages. Dear little Joan Agnew is to be married this month. I am so glad she is to live at Denmark Hill. She is such a lovely darling.

“I am very glad Mr. Hall suggested that art work to you; only don’t make yourself ill over it.

“With warm regards to all,

“Your affectionate friend,

“A. M. H.”

After Mrs. S. C. Hall’s first letter I had met at her house both Mrs. Laing and the Rev. T. Pelham Dale, friends of Miss Buss, who warmly took her part. After much effort, Mrs. Hall and Miss Buss met at last, being mutually attracted.

Some extracts from Miss Buss’ letters at this time show how very busy she was—

“Mrs. S. C. Hall and I have not converted each other yet. Why? Because she was not well, and I did not go!”

And later—

“Mrs. Hall asked me yesterday to go to lunch with her to-morrow. But, most unfortunately, I had engaged a railway carriage to take the girls in my house to Windsor, and cannot 108possibly send them without me. I could go to-morrow afternoon, but I have a meeting of my Dorcas Committee, followed by a teachers’ meeting. Both these must be given up if I go to Mrs. S. C. Hall’s, and, as you have already met this Indian gentleman, it seems scarcely worth while, either for you or me.

“I am glad Mrs. Hall is being led to see that a woman may have cultivation, and yet be able to mend a glove. Why people should insist on thinking that the education which should make a man must be injurious to a woman, is, to me, perplexing.”

Though Mrs. S. C. Hall declined to beg for us herself, she did very good service in introducing Miss Geraldine Jewsbury, who threw herself heart and soul into the work, bringing many useful friends, and, above all, by her own bright, breezy nature, cheering Miss Buss in many an hour when hope was low.

“Miss Jewsbury has raised again some hope—only I fear she has not had so much experience as you and I, in asking and failing. She is quite charming.


“These suggestions of Mr. Robins’ have been carried out, as you see. By to-morrow night, every member of every court of every Company will have had an invite to Friday’s meeting, and a circular of the Camden Schools.

“I have asked Miss Cobbe to help us to publicity, and Mr. Edwin H. Abbott, of the City of London School, will speak. I will see about Mr. Bompas.

“Invitations have been sent to every parent in both schools; have been left at every house in the High Street.

“I have bought twenty-eight prizes, have ordered labels to put inside, have harangued the Camden girls, have divided all my girls, and have had a dreadful day’s work. But one hopes on, and I have been for years accustomed to find ‘after many days.’”

At the prize-giving of the Camden School the Lord Mayor (Sir T. Dakin) took the chair, and there were present the Lady Mayoress, Mrs. Laing, Mrs. Burbury, Miss Emily Davies, the Rev. Edwin Abbott, Mr. Fitch, Mr. Joseph Payne, and other friends of Higher Education. Dr. Abbott, head-master of the 109City of London School, spoke very strongly on the duty of the Mayor and Corporation to provide for girls schools similar to those of their brothers.

On the following day Lord Dartmouth presided over the meeting for the Upper School, also held at St. George’s Hall, Langham Place, at which Harvey Lewis, Esq., M.P., and Arthur Roebuck, Esq., M.P., Mrs. Grey, Miss Jewsbury, Mrs. Henry Kingsley, and many others, were present.

A few days after the meetings, Miss Buss writes—

“We are agitating beautifully. Dr. Storrar read me a private, but very encouraging note from Lord Lyttelton, saying that we should have some endowments as soon as they can lay their hands on any.

“This will probably be very useful to us. As Mr. Robins says, our school must be the first of a series, encircling the City. Boys go immense distances to the City schools, showing it would be better, physically and morally, to have the schools within reach of the parents. Constant railway travelling is bad for growing lads, and there is no telling the amount of moral injury from companions in railway carriages, of whom the parents know nothing.

“This cannot be tolerated for girls!...

“Do you smile inwardly at our getting the start? Whether successful or not, we are first in the field, anyway, even in the City. I feel quite lighthearted because—you will not guess—but Mr. Danson has been at work over the accounts, all day yesterday and all day to-day. He is so thoroughly business-like, and so good-natured and patient, that it is a sensible relief to me. He has time and knowledge, and is willing to devote both as his share of work.

“I think we shall leave London, by the night mail, on Friday in time to catch the Hull boat to Gottenburg, which starts at six a.m. on Saturday.

“As I am always very sea-sick, the rest I so much want will be got on board by means of being compelled to be still.

“My beginning of that last sentence wants an explanation, I see, so now you have it. Collapse comes on, in a mild form, after weeks of work, at the rate of fifteen hours per diem. I trust by the time we reach Gottenburg to have recovered.

110“Mr. Robins asked me to the Swan-hopping dinner; but as it is on the 7th, I must not give up a week’s holiday for it. So Mr. Lee is going to advocate our cause privately as opportunity serves.

“Mr. Elliott has invited me to the Merchant Taylors’ dinner, on Thursday next, in the Crystal Palace. To that I am going; more, however, from policy than from inclination, as it is very possible I shall have to sit up best part of the night to pack for my journey, and put away all other things until my return.”

“Did it ever occur to you that packing, etc., or indeed, anything peculiarly womanly, is difficult, almost impossible to a woman who leaves home, day after day, at 8.30, and does not return, often—well, sometimes till 10.30 at night? That is my programme lately. But how much I talk of myself....

“I am obliged to break off hastily. I have been waiting at Myra Lodge for visitors who have not come! Quel bonheur!

“July 24, 1871.

“This morning Mr. Lee and I met Dr. Storrar and Mr. Robins at the Mansion House. The Lord Mayor spoke most pleasantly to us. He will give us a note, which Mr. Lee proposes to have lithographed, and a copy of this will accompany every memorial. The Lord Mayor was particularly agreeable to me, and congratulated me warmly; he is very much interested indeed, and hopes to pay us a visit in working hours early next term. At all events, the Lady Mayoress will come—we must keep her up to it. The census shows a steady decrease in residents in the City!”

“July 27, 1871.

“Pray read the attack on us in to-day’s Times. The fight has begun. We are not really in opposition. Any school in the City opened by Mr. Rogers will not prevent the necessity of a Camden Town district school.

“I only trust the Lord Mayor will not back out!”

Happily, the Lord Mayor stood firm, and wrote a strong letter of appeal to go out with the memorial to the City Companies.

Miss Buss’ holiday was most profitably spent in Sweden and Denmark, where she gathered many educational facts and theories, and where she found 111the Swedish desk, which she was the first to introduce into English schools.

The September campaign began with the Lord Mayor’s appeal, but progress was still very slow. Miss Geraldine Jewsbury’s warm sympathy was still a great comfort, but her letters show the difficulties encountered. Speaking of one friend, she says—

“I must neither ask her to subscribe nor to ask her husband; in fact, I could not rouse her interest in this quarter. She says she and her husband have embarked so much in the cause of education that they can do no more. But it is all for boys, of course. However, £5 is £5, and I think more of it than any other £5 I ever earned. I could never have believed in the difficulty of getting money for such a good purpose if I had not tried.

“Give my love to Miss Buss, and tell her not to lose heart. But it is trying and uphill work! Only her example strengthens others in all ways.”

“Selwood Park, Sept. 3, 1871.

Dear Miss Ridley,

“The enclosed letters will show you that I have not forgotten that poor Mr. Ruskin was to be my main hope. His illness has been very serious, and I know not at this moment where he is. I shall certainly see him when there is any chance of his being able to take thought of anything. I know how much interest he would have taken in the schools, and, I hope, will take in them yet.

“The lady in whom I most trusted to give me money has given me just nothing, and no promises even, nor expression of interest, and the aggravating thing is the reasons she gave! She has anticipated for two years the sum she gives to charitable objects or social progress to—the Society for Advancing Female Suffrage!!!

“I have been entirely unsuccessful so far, but am not going to lose heart nor hope; for success does not depend on whether an object is supported by many or by few. And I feel that these schools are just the most important step that has yet been taken for women, giving a solid foundation of good training, and Miss Buss has been raised up and trained for the emergency. She is doing the real needful work without minding the clatter of nonsense 112that is being talked about Woman’s Rights, and all the rest of it. The waste of money is the least part of one’s regret.

“My counsel and advice is, first, to write to the Lord Mayor and tell him that his example would be readily followed, and entreat him to lead the forlorn hope and give a small sum of money. I would write the letter gladly, only you can do it better, and are in the midst of the business of the schools.

“I will write to Mr. Roebuck, and see if he can rouse any interest. Do you also write to Mrs. Newmarch. Tell her the urgency of the matter; write such a letter as she can give her husband—not too long, but urgent. Write to Miss Cobbe, and beg her to make an article of appeal in the Echo, and at the same time interesting. Shoot all these arrows at once, and some of them will hit.

“I feel ashamed and disgusted at the tardy and small response you have met with; but, as nothing really good ever dies out, I am not cast down, and I feel just the same interest as at first—I have still one card to play for you, as I have not made my appeal to Mrs. Huth, and that I will do, both to her and her husband, sending on your letter. Do not let Miss Buss lose heart. Give my love to her, and tell her that though I have not brought in anything yet it has not been for want of talking and trying. There is always a dead pull in all undertakings to get them uphill; the wheels seem to stick fast, but, after a while, if this pull is continued, they move. Let me hear from you again, please, and

“Believe me, yours very truly,

Geraldine E. Jewsbury.”

I wrote to Mr. Ruskin, mentioning Miss Jewsbury’s request, and with great pleasure received a kind letter in reply, expressing interest in what I had told him of the school, and of the feeling of the founder. But, having at least three times more work on his hands than he was able for just then, he could do nothing till after the Christmas vacation, when it might be possible for him to come to see what was being done and what he might be able to do to forward the work.

It was always a regret to us that this visit never came to pass. Miss Buss and her girls missed what would have been a great delight, and Mr. Ruskin also 113missed the sight of healthy and womanly work and play which could not have failed to please as well as to cheer him in its hope for the future.

Miss Buss’ letters for the next few months show the effect of the strain of suspense and of hope deferred—

“Myra Lodge, 10 p.m., Sept. 27, 1871.

“Not ten minutes’ leisure till now, dear Miss Ridley. Teaching in the morning, a large Dorcas meeting in the afternoon, and an overwhelming mass of business correspondence—not nearly gone through yet, however.

“First, an answer from the Goldsmiths has come. You do not need to be told what that answer is.

“An idea has struck me that it might be well for us to ask those who have subscribed so far whether they give to one school more than another? If not, let us divide the subscriptions, and so hand over to Camden Street some of our money. This is between us—just now, at least....

“I do not think we must, in any way, appear adverse to the City movement under Mr. Rogers.

“I feel we have forced him into action, and, as our motive is to help women generally, and not the women of Camden Town only, to have driven him to act is one result, and a great one, of our organization.

“Why I think of the division of subscriptions is that no doubt some of the people would prefer to help the poorer school. If so, I should prefer their subscriptions going in the way they wanted. I am sure that my old pupils help their own old school, and do not care for the new and unknown one....

“I have written to the Lady Mayoress, and will write to Miss Cobbe, asking her to let me call. Of course I shall give her your note. What a dear, bright, ever young heart Miss Jewsbury has! If you had done nothing but interest her, your work would have been great. She has saved me almost from despair at least on two occasions.

“I don’t mind our Board meetings, and really have never but once been like what we suppose a caged lion to be.

“It is now the amount of the work, and the sort of unsettled state we are in, that overdo me. But Mr. Danson is helping to reduce money matters to order, and to be relieved of the management of that would be really a comfort.

114“We have now 190 girls in the Camden School; one father has come to live in the neighbourhood on purpose to send four girls. I scarcely know what to do for teachers, and am in correspondence with all sorts of people. Old pupils do not seem available, or they are not mature enough.

“We must have some more furniture too, as there is not enough in Camden Street for the present number. The ventilation in the Camden Road is not nearly good enough; but I am compelled to act, and so must risk observations from the Board. We ought to be thinking of building for the Camden School; but money, money, where is it to come from?

“I hear Mr. Mason, of Birmingham, who has just spent £200,000, or some such sum, on his orphanage, intends to give £30,000 to education. Mrs. Sheldon Amos went to him about the Working Women’s College, and got a sort of promise. I always intended to get at him if I could; so, hearing of her visit, I wrote straight off to the wife of the Town Clerk of Birmingham, Mrs. Hayes, to ask for an introduction, saying a visit to Birmingham would be nothing if there were the least hope of getting help; even if one only induced him to give part of the money to girls at Birmingham something would be gained. A visit there is therefore looming. Mrs. Hayes gives me a warm invitation to her house. She knows me through an old pupil, who is governess to her children, and called on me here when in London.

“(Ah, ah, how I wish we could get a fine building for the Camden Road School! We do want a lecture hall and a gymnasium so much.)

“Two school concerts are on me next week, and a good deal to think of in connection with them. Musical men are not easygoing: each one will have the best places for his pupils; each will go his own way. Most school-mistresses have to deal with one only; I have three, and also three young women; the latter were fairly manageable.

“A good second would be a great relief to me, and would enable me to work at something less than express-train speed—a speed that cannot be continued for very many years. It would be worth while to raise the pay of my second, as she became more useful. I never have time to prepare my lessons, which is almost indispensable if one wishes to teach well.

“There has been quite an avalanche of storms raised by parents lately, mainly because I have had to engage a governess not trained in the school. She does not therefore understand 115our ways, and causes me much worry; but she is really a good Christian girl, one who will do well in time. But, as I tell her, I have to suffer during the process of her instruction.

“If the Birmingham invite does not come this week, as I hope it will not, on Friday I hope to go to Mrs. Hodgson, at Bournemouth, till Monday night—Monday being our half-term holiday, and most of my house-girls away. Mrs. H. is the dearest, sweetest, brightest, most unselfish creature, and I love her dearly! You will believe me, when I say how much I am learning to love you. I cannot bear to hear of your being tired. Pray take rest and get well.

“Always your loving

“F. M. B.”

There came at this juncture a very bright ray of encouragement in a gratifying letter from the Princess of Wales. As the Queen had given her name to the first College, it was thought that the Princess might do no less for the first Public School for Girls, and the Memorial Committee made the request, on the principle of “nothing venture, nothing have.”

The following letter was addressed to the Rev. Charles Lee, as the chairman of the Memorial Committee:—


“I am directed by the Princess of Wales to acknowledge the receipt of a letter signed by you, in conjunction with Dr. J. Storrar, on behalf of the trustees and governors of the institution established in Camden Town for the promotion of secondary instruction for girls.

“Her Royal Highness fully recognizes the importance and great need of improvement in the education of girls of the poorer middle-class, and believes that the North London Collegiate School for Girls, with its Lower School, will not only to some extent meet this want, but that it will also serve as a model to similar schools, the establishment of which in other parts of the Metropolis, and in the country generally, it may encourage.

“The Princess of Wales, therefore, has much pleasure in acceding to the request that her Royal Highness would allow 116these schools to be placed under her patronage, and has directed me to forward to you the enclosed cheque for fifty guineas as her Royal Highness’ contribution to the funds of the undertaking.

“I have the honour to be, sir,

“Your most obedient servant,

M. Holzmann, Private Secretary.

“Sandringham, Nov. 15, 1871.”

In response to this cheering bit of news Miss Jewsbury at once wrote off—

“Manchester, Nov. 26, 1871.

“I am very glad indeed about the Princess. It is the best of all the many kind things she has done. How did you get at her?

“I will write myself to Mr. Novelli, and am going on Tuesday to Sir Joseph Whitworth’s, and will see if I can move him to help us! Give my love to Miss Buss. She will ‘see the fruit of her doings’ yet; and she does not know how much her patient endurance has strengthened the hands of the many (of whom she may never hear) who are wearied and ready to lose heart in their labours. I can speak of what her example is to myself.”



“No man will give his son a stone if he asks for bread; but thousands of men have given their daughters diamonds when they asked for books, and coiled serpents of vanity and dissipation round their necks when they asked for wholesome food and beneficent employment.”—F. P. Cobbe.

The great event of the year 1871—from the educational point of view—was the meeting of the Society of Arts, at which Mrs. William Grey read her able paper on Secondary Education for Girls, in which was contained the germ of the Women’s National Education Union, and the Girls’ Public Day Schools Company. The chair was taken by the Rev. William Rogers, whose great school for boys in Cowper Street was just completed, and the audience included most of the distinguished leaders in educational movements.

Mrs. Grey took up the question of higher education for women in all its bearings, and, recognizing the needs which had to be met, proposed the formation of “an Educational League,” to embrace all who were actively interested in the question, and having for its object—

“to carry what might be characterized as the Educational Charter of Women—first, the equal right of women to the education considered best for human beings; second, the equal right of women to a share in the existing educational endowments of the country, and to be considered, not less than boys, in the creation of any new endowments; third, the registration of teachers, with such 118other measures as may raise teaching as a profession no less honourable and honoured for women than it is for men.”

The discussion following this paper will always retain historic value, because, as both sides had free scope, it represents the exact estimate of women which prevailed at that period. For the women of the twentieth century—in the serene enjoyment of the results of the work of the nineteenth century—it will have an interest of which wonder will form no small part. The women of 1871, as they listened, had long since ceased to wonder, but they had other feelings which, happily for the readers of 1971, will also have acquired the historic value which attaches to all relics of a far-away past.

It was when presiding at this meeting that Mr. Rogers made the speech, of which every one heard so much during the next two years, a speech that showed how he also had yet to learn from experience the difference between efforts for boys’ and efforts for girls’ schools.

In proposing the vote of thanks for Mrs. Grey’s paper, Mr. Rogers remarked that he could not agree with one statement—that there was no demand on the part of parents for a higher education; on the contrary, there was a widespread dissatisfaction with the present state of things. Being anxious to establish a girls’ school in connection with the Boys’ Middle-class School in London, he sent round a paper to the parents of the boys—numbering about eleven hundred—asking their opinion, and he received answers, and promises that the girls should be sent, from about five hundred. He also disputed the statement that “where pounds were subscribed for the boys there was difficulty in getting shillings for the girls,” as he believed that funds would be forthcoming so soon as the real difficulty—of suitable sites and good teachers—had been met.

119In passing, it may here be noted that during the year following this meeting Mr. Rogers succeeded in securing the required site and teachers, and thereupon made his appeal for the girls—the “sisters of the boys.” For the boys, in one single meeting, he had obtained promises of £60,000, to which another £10,000 was added. It was the work of months to collect for the girls the sum of £5000, much less than one-tenth of what had been given for the boys. What eventually became of this £5000 will be told in due course.

On the strength of Mr. Rogers’ speech at Mrs. Grey’s meeting, I wrote a letter to the Daily News, stating that the Camden School was in full possession of the essential points of teachers and pupils, and now needed only £5000 for a suitable building.

To this appeal there was no response in money; but, on July 6, 1871, I had a note from Miss Buss which showed that interest had been excited—

Dear Miss Ridley,

“Miss Mary Gurney has been here to-day, and she talks of writing a paper for the Leeds meeting of the Social Science. I told her about you, and asked her to write to you, and I also said that a sketch of this, the only public school for girls, would probably lead to more useful, because more positive, results than another paper on the general question of girls’ education.

“Miss Gurney is the daughter of the shorthand writer to the House of Commons, and is deeply interested in all educational questions.

“She has made our acquaintance only from your newspaper paragraph.

“I felt what the little children call naughty on Monday—wearied, dejected, worried, and over-anxious!! But body prevails, as you know, over mind, and I felt very sorry for what I said to you.

“I send you a Daily News of to-day. The leader will help on our appeal. Only the editor, all the way through, speaks of 120‘boys’ instead of ‘children,’ which would include boys and girls.

“We meet to-morrow?

“Always yours,

Frances M. Buss.”

Early in July a letter of mine in Public Opinion had been followed by a discussion on endowments for girls’ schools, which I finally summed up as follows:—

“Now, however, we may hope. In this implied support of the Lord Mayor we see far more than help to the Camden School. We see in it a hope of some large and united public effort, through which the Camden School will be only the first of a series encircling London, and everywhere meeting the same want. A great step has been taken in the City, in Mr. Rogers’ proposed new schools there. Two other City schools are also proposed. It must be remembered, however, that the resident City population is steadily diminishing. To benefit girls truly the schools should come to them in the suburbs.”

Referring to this hope, Miss Gurney writes—

“I am extremely obliged to you for your kindness in thinking of my paper, and sending me such a helpful letter about it. I will get the Illustrated News. I will also venture to write to Miss Cobbe, and I will look at your letter in Public Opinion. I think I have advocated just the same view in my paper. The difficulty seems to be to constitute the central authority. Any Middle-class scheme ought to be very superior to our Elementary Education, which has grave defects. And then, where are our suitable teachers to be found? From my experience of the world there are few people like Miss Buss. It will never do to have the teachers of Elementary schools. But of course all these difficulties must be met with spirit.

“I have been so much interested in your arguments in favour of public schools, of many of which I had not thought, but I agree with all. I should have liked to copy it into my paper, and have acknowledged your kind help, but had not room; so I have stolen some of your ideas, which I hope you will pardon, and have woven them in with a curious German report from Frankfurt. Your 121thoughts in favour of a ‘mixture of classes’ and ‘true independence’ have long been favourite hobbies of mine; but your idea of an esprit de corps was quite new to me, and I think it most valuable.”

In the Echo of October 10, 1871, there is a report of the Social Science Meeting at Leeds, saying—

“The time of the Education Department to-day was wasted for a long time by two factious men. They spoiled the discussion of the papers by Mrs. Grey and Miss Gurney on the special requirements for the improvement of the education of girls, by two childish speeches, the one in disparagement, the other in eulogy of woman. Mr. Baines (the president) had the greatest difficulty in shutting them up.”

In the same day’s issue of the Echo there is a somewhat sarcastic letter from Miss Cobbe, commenting on Mr. Rogers’ happy visions of help for girls’ education, and demanding the practical realization so long deferred, and especially advocating the claims of the Camden School to a fraction of the help so liberally bestowed on the brothers of these girls.

The outcome of Mrs. Grey’s papers—read before the Society of Arts and the Social Science Congress at Leeds—was a large and enthusiastic meeting in London, in November, 1871, when the Women’s National Education Union was formally inaugurated, with Mrs. Grey as president for the first year. In the year following H.R.H. the Princess Louise (Marchioness of Lorne) became president, with a goodly array of well-known names as vice-presidents, and an acting committee of Educationalists, professional and amateur. Of this committee, Mr. Joseph Payne, Chairman of the College of Preceptors, became the chairman till his death in 1875.

The Woman’s Education Journal, edited by Miss Shirreff and Mr. G. C. T. Bartley, served as the special organ of the Union, lasting for over ten years, and 122containing a summary of the most important events of a decade rich in interest for all women.

Miss Buss’ Journal-letters refer to the rise of the Women’s Education Union, and also to a suggestion made by a friend that Mrs. Grey, having the public ear, should make an appeal through the Times for the Camden School—

“Nov. 1, 1871.

Dear Miss Ridley,

“Miss Gurney called on Monday. She is willing to join Mrs. Grey’s association—the National Union for Improving Women’s Education, or some such name. May I give in your name as a member, and perhaps worker? I think we ought now to print an account of what we have done—what say you? Your pamphlet, ‘Pearl and Sea-foam,’ is almost out—I have only two copies. From what Miss Gurney said, I think she would write a pamphlet, but I told her I would consult you. Please tell me your opinion.

“When you can, I want you to enter into our inner life, and then some fine day write an account of it—perhaps after my time, who can say? At all events, a detailed account of Cheltenham College for Ladies was read, at a Social Science Congress one year, and perhaps you might do a similar thing for us at a future time.

“There is a talk of getting representatives of different educational bodies on Mrs. Grey’s National Union Committee. If so, I hope you will represent us. But that appointment must be made by the Board.

“This must be the tenth letter, so you will forgive its jerky style. Our concerts went off well and were well attended.

“Your very loving


“You do not know my ‘pet name’—that given me by my dear wee nephew?”

Miss Buss was elected on the Council of the Education Union as representative of the school-mistresses Association. She was also of great use in sending information, through me, to a sub-committee of which I was for a time a member.

In readiness for the need of which Miss Buss speaks 123I had been collecting material for an enlargement of “Pearl and Sea-foam,” but as Miss Gurney was willing to make the schools the text of her pamphlet (issued later as No. 3 of the Women’s Education Union Series), her offer was gladly accepted. In this pamphlet Miss Buss’ schools are recognized as the model on which those of the Girls’ Public Day Schools’ Company were afterwards formed.

In December, 1871, Miss Gurney writes—

“I am extremely obliged for all the trouble you have taken with my paper. It has been a very difficult task, especially after writing on the same subject before. I hope you will read my Leeds paper in the Englishwoman’s Review last month.

“I most fully feel the truth of all you say about Miss Buss. I think her personal influence most wonderful; and, although I cannot say that she has awakened any new enthusiasm in me, because an educational enthusiasm has been always a part of myself, yet I think I am able to see and appreciate her rare worth and talent.

“And yet, in this paper, we must not say anything which will appear like flattery to those who do not know her.”

Miss Buss’ own words gave her appreciation of the help rendered to her own work by this pamphlet—

“Myra Lodge, March 25, 1872.

My dear Miss Gurney,

“The pamphlet shall go out to-day to Mrs. Gilbert. It seems to me that we cannot circulate your paper too widely. Will you order another one thousand copies, or, if you think more will be wanted, let us have two thousand.

“Should not a copy be sent to the members of the Council of the Society of Arts, and of the Social Science? Copies will be wanted for the annual meetings of both these societies.

“On all hands I hear how glad people are to have so clear a statement of our plans.

“The Merchant Taylors have given us fifty guineas and the Dyers five. As yet, no other Companies have responded to our appeal....

124“Dr. Hodgson says he has read your paper with great interest, and that he trusts this strong appeal may help us. He asks whence you quoted him?

“By his advice, I have sent some copies away. During the Easter recess—from the 17th to the 29th of April—I hope to go to Edinburgh, in order to see the five schools of the Merchant Companies: 4400 pupils under one management—two schools for boys, and two for girls (one of the latter with 1200 pupils, and the other with 500), and one mixed school.

“Do you see the Examiner? It is very liberal in the women’s questions. A pamphlet, containing a reprint of many—well, several—of its articles has just been issued.

“I think you will not mind my saying that every one likes your pamphlet—so far as my knowledge goes. When are we to pay for the first edition?

“With all kind regards,

“Believe me, yours most truly,

Frances M. Buss.

“To Miss Gurney.”

But this comes some months later. In the mean time, Mrs. Grey had to buy the experience that afterwards led to the formation of the new company. The Journal-letter of November 18, 1871, alludes to the inaugural meeting of the Women’s Education Union—

“Nov. 18, 1871.

“Mrs. Grey’s meeting was well attended yesterday, but oddly enough not one word was said of our schools. This does not matter much, however.

“Mr. Forster’s suggestion is admirable, and ought to be carried into execution at once. I think Mrs. Grey would make the appeal; at all events, I will ask her this evening. For the Camden School only, however, for women, we want about £5000.

“It will not do to include the other at present. Miss Gurney has begun her paper, but I am not very clear about it. I was so worried by visitors on Wednesday, when she came, that she and I got only half an hour together, as she had to rush off to Mrs. Grey’s committee.

“If only an agency could be started, with which I was not ostensibly connected, what a comfort it would be! But just now 125the applications for governesses are overwhelming, and they entail correspondence which is not compatible with the inner school-work, which I ought to do. But at present I see no outlet. I never have leisure to prepare any lessons at all, and it is only this week I have even been able to give an account of my holiday trip to Sweden—among the pupils. Denmark is waiting still; it is necessary to digest one’s materials, to draw up heads, etc., and these require leisure.

“Do you remember the peasant girl, now a first-rate teacher in Stockholm? Also the Danish peasant girl, who is mistress of the orphanage at Holstermunde?...”

“Dec. 8, 1871.

“I fear my last note was pitched in a low key. Mrs. Grey’s letter enclosed will show you there is no occasion for jubilation, but I am better, having nearly struggled through my heavy cold.

“We had a very long sitting on Monday, but got through some business, one part of which was that the Treasurers were empowered to take another house for the Camden School rather than refuse pupils! I gave my furniture, valued at £140, in the Camden School, to the trust. My scholarship is to be invested in Consols, to my disgust, as that will only produce 3 per cent.

“Mr. Harries and Miss Ewart are to audit the accounts on the 22nd, and I wonder where the accounts would be if Mr. Danson did not give so much help to us. Do you know, Mr. Danson is perfectly delightful. He is so business-like, so kind and patient, that I can’t see what I should do without him on the one side, and a certain Annie R. on the other. And I mean this.

“We are all quite sick with anxiety about the Prince of Wales, who is said to be dying. I cannot help being sad about the poor little Princess—our Princess. My dear love to you. My little housemaid is waiting for this to post it, and it is past ten, so good night.”

“Board Room, 202, Camden Road, Dec. 12, 1871.

Trust for carrying on the North London Collegiate School for Girls.

“Look at this!

Dear Annie,

“Are we not getting business-like! Mr. Forster’s suggestion of a lecture from Professor J. R. Seeley is a good one, but I doubt whether we should get as much as £100 from the lecture; 126and as Professor Seeley is already largely pledged to the Hitchin College, I also doubt whether he would lecture for our movement only. But we can try. I know both Professor and Mrs. Seeley. They have visited me at Myra, and I have visited them. Mrs. Seeley is a niece of Mrs. De Morgan.

“Your loving


This last suggestion came to nothing, but Mrs. Grey wrote to the Times, setting forth in the strongest way possible the claim of girls in general to the help so freely given to boys, as well as the special claim of the Camden School, not only as recognition of Miss Buss’ services, but from the fact that the school was in full work, and therefore proved conclusively not only the need for such a school, but also that this need could be met. She told how Miss Buss, “with a self-sacrifice as rare as it is noble, had voluntarily handed over the fruits of twenty years’ labours” for the benefit of girls, and then, for these same girls, asks that Miss Buss’ generosity may be supplemented, for the two schools, by a quarter of the amount given to the one school for boys in Cowper Street, since, otherwise, it is to be feared that—

“these schools and their able and devoted principal, Miss Buss, must break down under the strain put upon them, and a great work which has already done so much for the better training of girls, and promises to do more, will have to be abandoned.”

Among my correspondence of this date, I find a note respecting this appeal which might account in some measure for the small response it received—

“The Times won’t do things gracefully. I enclose you Mrs. Grey’s admirable appeal on behalf of the Camden Schools, which I cut out of the outer sheet of the issue of yesterday. The redeeming feature is that the letter is what printers call ‘displayed.’ Unfortunately, however, people who buy the paper at the bookstalls frequently leave the advertisement part behind!”

127Within a month after this first letter Mrs. Grey wrote again to the Times, stating in detail the response given to Mr. Rogers’ appeals for boys, and giving as her own experience, concerning the appeal for girls of the same class, the following most noteworthy result:—

“The answer to my appeal for the Camden Town Schools for Girls, founded by the energy, ability, and generosity of Miss Buss, has been £47 2s. 6d., of which £20 would have been given whether my letter had been written or not; so that the net result of my appeal to this great Metropolis on behalf of the sisters of the boys for whom such a magnificent endowment has been received has been, in fact, just £27 2s. 6d.

This second letter brought in about £100 more, raising the result of Mrs. Grey’s appeal to £147 2s. 6d. The total amount collected by all, after three years of hard work, came to not more than £700.

And yet Miss Jewsbury’s hopeful words, written about this time, were quite true. Public interest was roused, though not as yet to the point of generous giving. Miss Jewsbury writes—

“Give my love to Miss Buss, and wish her a happy New Year. The idea of a thorough education for women has now, I think, taken hold of the public mind, and will be followed by the desire to obtain it. Miss Buss’s schools will bring forth abundant fruit. She has borne the burden and cold of the day, but her work will take root. There was a notice of Mrs. Grey’s letter in the Manchester Examiner and Times, and a leading article too. I had seen a nice letter of Mrs. S. C. Hall’s yesterday. Yes, Mrs. Grey is charming, and good to the core.”

The subject was in all the papers. Miss Cobbe did good service in the Echo, and Miss Chessar in the Queen. Our hopes had naturally risen high when Mrs. Grey took the question up so warmly. The disappointment was proportionately great.

And, bad as this might seem, there was yet more to 128follow. During the six months since the reading of Mrs. Grey’s paper before the Society of Arts, Mr. Rogers had collected £5000 for a girls’ school in the City. But some City endowments—the “Datchelor Charity” and others—had been found available for girls’ education. Consequently, at the seventh annual meeting of “the Corporation formed for Promoting Middle-class Education in the City of London and the Suburbs,” it was proposed that the £5000—collected for girls expressly—should be used for the new hall of the Cowper Street School for Boys (already endowed with £60,000), this particular sum being just what would make up the £11,000 needed for a new hall.

Several voices, notably that of Alderman Besley, were raised against this act, and mention was made that this sum was all that was asked by the Camden School, in the suburbs, and very close to the City. But the motion was carried.

It was to no purpose that leading journals, as well as “educational enthusiasts,” were “aghast at the announcement that a sum of money contributed for the special purpose of endowing a middle-class school for girls is to be devoted to the purpose of beautifying and enlarging the present middle-class school for boys.” The thing was done.

That the school on which so much had already been expended should, in addition, take the sum, which, comparatively small as it was, would have sufficiently endowed the one existing school for girls of the same class, was a blow calculated to wound to the utmost the women who were devoting themselves heart and soul to the effort to help these girls. Mrs. Grey, in a letter to the Times, expresses this natural feeling with a strength that was not in excess of the provocation received, as she says, “It was with painful astonishment, 129not unmingled with bitter feelings,” that she had read the report of the meeting. Her letter ends with a still stronger appeal to the editor—

“Will you, sir, not raise, in the name of the nation, a protest which cannot be so easily set aside? Will you not at least make it clear to the public that this is not a woman’s question, but a man’s question, a national question, and that to leave uneducated one-half of the people—and that the half which moulds the associations, habits, and life of the other half—is a course so suicidal that of the nation which deliberately follows it we are tempted to exclaim in bitterness of soul, ‘Quem deus vult perdere prius dementat’?”

Miss Buss naturally shared in this bitter feeling, to which she thus refers—

“You have received my outburst of indignation about the City corporation? Fancy coolly alienating the money collected for a girls’ school, and then handing it to the boys’ school, on which ONLY £60,000 have been spent! Then the land in Southwark, purchased as the site of another school, is to be sold, and the proceeds handed over to the same school. Of course, it would be infinitely more useful to build a school at Southwark than to spend the money on the City school.

“A protest might well be sent from us against the recent act in the City—on public and general grounds. Of course we could not have any claim to that £5000. But it is no matter. Do not trouble about it. But I do feel so impatient and weary sometimes! Still, I try to be faithful. Unto the end, let us hope!

“Really, I am very despairing, spite of success so far.”

But “impatience” and “despair” were never more than passing moods with this strong, brave spirit, whose faith went deep down below all check or discouragement. Here are two notes which end the year 1871 and lead in 1872—

“Myra Lodge, Christmas Morning.

My dear ‘Annie,’

“A very, very happy Christmas to you and to all you love! “Will you read Mrs. Grey’s note?

130“Will you come here for me, or will it be less fatiguing to you, for me to meet you at the Swiss Cottage Railway Station? Please send word by bearer, and the hour. If the latter plan be agreed on, we had better meet at 10.30 or 10.45.

“After our interview with Mrs. Grey, will you return to lunch with me, and let us have a quiet afternoon together? A quiet afternoon for me will be delightful. No consciousness of work neglected, and no responsibility, will make it really enjoyable to me.

“If you will return here, I will ask Agnes to come also.

“Yours always affectionately,


“Ryde, New Year’s Day, 1872.

My dear Annie,

“A very happy New Year to you and yours! Will you accept the enclosed motto,[6] in loving remembrance of Arnie and New Year’s Day? It is a motto one needs to keep in constant remembrance. It is the hardest of all life’s lessons, that of resigning one’s self to an All-guiding and Almighty Hand above....

“I am already much better for leaving behind all responsibilities. It is very cold. On Friday, or Saturday, I expect to go to Sea Moor House, Bournemouth, Hants (Mrs. Hodgson’s), for a few days. My love to you and to Agnes.

“Yours always affectionately,


6.  This motto is, “O God, for Christ’s sake, do with me, in me, to me, by me, for me, as Thou wilt, this year!”




“Having reaped and garnered, bring the plough,
And draw new furrows, ’neath the healthy morn,
And plant the great Hereafter in the Now.”
E. B. Browning.

But, however it might be borne, the disappointment was bitter, more especially in the proof given of the absolute indifference of the public to the whole question. Prejudice might have been overcome, opposition might have been met, but against indifference so invincible no means seemed available.

Mrs. Grey gave it up as hopeless. She frankly abandoned the old position, and opened out new ground in making her next appeal directly to the British commercial instinct. In starting the Girls’ Public Day School Company there was offered in addition to thorough education, a dividend of five per cent.

The success of Miss Buss had proved that schools like hers were wanted by numbers sufficient to make them pay. There was not the slightest difficulty in any case in raising the £2000 in shares needed to start one of the Company’s schools in any locality desiring to have it.[7]

7.  Miss Clough, in her interest in Miss Buss’ work, had proposed to the National Education Union the formation of a company to supply school-buildings in this and similar cases. But the council decided to start its own schools, and nothing came of this proposition so far as regarded the Camden School.

132This new departure tended rather to hinder than to help on the endowment of the Camden School, of which the very raison d’être was a rate of fees too low even to pay for buildings, a dividend being quite beside the mark.

Money had come in, though slowly, for the furniture of the Upper School, and this was now quite self-supporting, though very inadequately housed. What would, in this school, have gone towards a dividend, went instead to the salaries of the teachers, higher here than in any similar institution.

But for the Lower School an endowment was absolutely necessary. Hitherto, Miss Buss herself had provided all that had been needed beyond the money subscribed. She had not the very faintest intention of fulfilling Mrs. Grey’s desponding prognostications of the abandonment of the scheme as a result of the public apathy. The precise manner in which it was to be carried out still remained to be discovered, but she never wavered in her intention that, somehow, it was to be done.

During the year 1872 the pressure on Miss Buss seemed to be a little increased by this new departure. In June she writes of it—

“Several people have written to me about the £5 shares in the Brompton School, and my ire was rising.

“Mrs. Grey’s handing over all Mr. Morley’s £500 to purchase shares in the new school shows pretty clearly—in addition to the Goldsmid gift—what chance we have of help in that quarter. There can be no doubt that the new school movement is leaving us high and dry.

“I do not feel aggrieved by the Union in the least. It only makes me more determined to act. Miss Davies shuts herself into one bit of work; Mrs. Grey into another; I into a third....

133“Mr. Rogers’ suggestion about the Columbia Market (have you seen it?) if acted upon, will prevent our getting any help from the City. He says the market is useless—turn it into a splendid school for girls! I hope the suggestion may be acted upon; if he takes it up, he will soon get the money needed. We shall have no chance at all. The City Companies will vie with each other in starting this magnificent scheme. City men like to ‘live in bricks and mortar’—not to say stone. To live in human hearts is not durable enough.

“Between the two schemes, we shall be swamped entirely if we do not take the bull by the horns and make a huge effort.”

There was no real antagonism between Miss Buss and the Girls’ Public Day School Company. She was very glad of the work, and helped it in many ways, as is shown in Mrs. Grey’s letters—

“18, Cadogan Place, June 18, 1873.

My dear Miss Buss,

“... I am troubling you again in this matter as there is a proposal before our Council to adopt your scale of fees in the new school....

“Several people have told me that your meeting yesterday was a splendid success. I congratulate you heartily, and sincerely regret not having been able to attend.

“I wonder whether I shall live to see similar success won by the Company’s schools? If we could but get a duplicate of you I should feel very sure of the success, whether I live to see it or not.

“Most truly yours,

M. G. Grey.”

In September, 1874, the following letter was received by Miss Buss from one of the foremost supporters of the St. John’s Wood and Hampstead High School for Girls, a lady whose enthusiasm had first been roused by her efforts to help Miss Buss’ work—

My dear Miss Buss,

“I am hoping to work for the St. John’s Wood School, though on the whole I have met with little sympathy. One of the objections to the new school will amuse you vastly, namely, that all the people to whom I applied said that they would not like to 134subscribe to a school that might in any way interfere with yours, and that the near (!) neighbourhood of St. John’s Wood to Camden Town might have this disastrous result. Nothing that I could say convinced my opponents.... If we cannot get the help of the intelligent and influential persons here, what shall we do?... I feel sure that you can do much to help us: your name could be on our committee, though we should not expect you to work.

“Yours truly,

E. Tolmé.”

Miss Buss at once took shares in the company, giving her name to the committee, on which I acted as her representative. Many of her own friends were members, as well as educationalists like Dr. Abbott, Dr. Angus, Professor Huxley, Professor Carey Foster, and Mr. Norman Lockyer. The new school was built by Mr. Robins.

In the mean time her own work went on slowly enough. The main hope was now in the Endowed Schools’ Commission, since the constitution of both schools had been arranged in harmony with schemes drawn up by that body.

Whilst one-half of the governing body of the North London Collegiate and Camden Schools for Girls had formed the memorial committee, occupied with ways and means, the remaining members had devoted themselves to working out the details of the constitution, both parties uniting for the general board meetings, and there discussing all points in common.

In Dr. Storrar, who had all his life been closely connected with great educational bodies, having helped in the development of the London University and of the College of Preceptors, we had a practical educationalist; as also in Mrs. Burbury, who, as the daughter of Dr. Kennedy, had breathed education with her earliest breath; Miss Ewart, too, was in like manner born to public spirit, as the granddaughter of the William Ewart 135to whom William Ewart Gladstone owed his name, and as the daughter of a distinguished member of the House of Commons, who, for forty-six years, helped in every advanced public work, especially the London University. Dr. Storrar and these ladies, in particular, spared neither time nor pains in working out the scheme, and in enlisting sympathy with its objects in all likely quarters.

But, in the beginning of 1872, the Endowed Schools Commission had not finished its work, and help from this quarter was still remote. Some extracts from Miss Buss’ letters at this time show how very slow was the progress made in getting funds—

“January 10, 1872.

“Mr. Ellis privately has sent a cheque for £20 to the Camden School. Lord Calthorpe has done the same, but as yet there has been no other response to our memorial letters.

“Mrs. Newmarch writes a kind note, to say she means to pay us a visit when she can, and she sends a guinea from ‘Mrs. Brown.’ We are getting on, though slowly.”

“Myra Lodge, Mar. 10, 1872.

“The Camden sites and leases have been pressing much on me. Nothing has been done about the site. The lawyers are too dreadful. The land tenure is so complicated that it seems hopeless to understand it!

“I want to talk to you about our trying to get up a City meeting. The Lord Mayor is favourable to female education. I wrote to Mrs. Dakin, asking for an introduction to the Lady Mayoress, but Mrs. Dakin is abroad. I shall try next Saturday through another channel.”

“Mar. 22.

“Miss Gurney’s paper seems to be stirring up much interest.

“The Edinburgh Schools will be open during my holidays. So I propose to leave for Edinburgh on the morning of the 18th of April. Miss Chessar, who is going there next week, will make inquiries about apartments for us. You mean to go, I trust?

“I want to visit the Dollar Schools, as well as the Merchant Company’s Schools, and on the road home I should like to stay a day or so at Newcastle. I must be again in London on Monday, the 29th of April.

136“Dr. Hodgson has prepared the way for my admission, and he says I ‘shall find open doors.’”

“Mar. 25.

“We are to have a city meeting. At least, Mr. Elliott and I are empowered to try to get one up.

“I am very weary to-day, having been late last night. I have not an hour to myself, except on Sunday before church, till Tuesday evening, every moment being filled with appointments—I mean after school hours.”

“Bournemouth, Mar. 30, 1872.

“All being well I will go with you—not without you, I trust—to Mrs. Mawson’s, on 27th of April.

“The memorial to the Princess has not gone in, nor that to the Baroness Burdett Coutts. Nothing has been done about our City meeting. I am so tied down by the annual exams, that I hardly know where to turn or what to do, or rather, what not to do.

“I am having, however, perfect peace here. It is a most lovely place, and I should like you to know my dear sweet friend Mrs. Hodgson! She knows a good deal of you.”

“April 5.

“Mr. Harries thinks the City meeting would be a failure. The Lord Mayor could not lend the Mansion House for anything not Metropolitan or National.

“This school was 22 years old yesterday!”

“April 10.

“About Lord G. H. I do not care a rush. Only if we women had not submitted to the humiliation of begging from all sorts of people, on any or no grounds, where should we be?...

“I have sent a book, papers, and a note to-day to Miss B. I think the note, though short, might move a heart of stone!

“If you can come on Friday evening, pray do. Mr. Payne is very anxious to talk philology with you. I have asked all sorts of people who have been offering me hospitality, and all the women teachers in both schools. It is desirable that I should do something for my fellow-labourers from time to time.

“The Lady Mayoress is going to the Camden School on Friday next, at 2.30. Do you care to meet her?”

“April 20.

“Mrs. Tolmés success is delightful! I have thanked her for enlisting the Baroness, but have omitted to say anything about the prizes.

137“I did ask about a scholarship, and I have invited the baroness to pay us a visit. A notice of the £10 donation shall be sent to all the papers.”

The “Edinburgh Schools” here mentioned had been recently opened by the Merchants’ Company of that city. Using the money of various old charities that had fallen into utter abuse, they had made five thoroughly good schools on the latest and best principles, two for boys, two for girls, and one mixed. The first school was arranged for 1200 girls, and had proved a great success.

The account of this work had naturally been of great interest to Miss Buss, and, as she knew that there had been every advantage that could be derived from the possession of ample means, she was anxious to see for herself what had been done. She therefore devoted her Easter vacation to the visit to Edinburgh, in which I accompanied her, dating from this happy time that closer intimacy which it was my privilege to enjoy. Dr. Hodgson’s introduction to Mr. Thomas Knox, the Master of the Merchants’ Company, made our way something of a triumphal progress, as I find in my letters home the record of “intense attention from hosts of masters and other people—to Miss Buss, of course, I moving round her like an attendant satellite, and shining in reflected light.” I was still young enough to be amused at Mr. Knox’s description of the “two ladies from the south, eminent educationalists,” doing my best to sustain the character. I could at least appreciate my opportunities in hearing the talk between Miss Buss and Mr. Knox. Even apart from their friendship with Dr. Hodgson, they found a strong bond in their educational sympathies. In my journal I find him described as—

“A tall, fine-looking man, with a grand head, and, I should think, a great heart. It is he who chiefly has carried the great 138reforms, sweeping away one abuse after another by the force of his strong will and steady purpose. One is struck by his patriotism. His feeling for Edinburgh breaks out constantly, and one can see that his public duty lies as near his heart as any private interest, while he takes as his family all human creatures, especially all young things, from the scholars of the Merchants’ Company’s Schools to the waifs and strays of his own special hobby, the training-ship. It is exquisite to see how this great, strong man speaks to the old women at the Home and to the children, with tender consideration for each individually as well as in general kindness.”

His wife and daughter were absent, so we missed seeing his home-life, but he showed us all that was most worth seeing in his beloved city. To Miss Buss it was real holiday, and nothing seemed too much for her in that busy week which to me was something of severe mental strain, as well as unwonted physical exercise. We must have marched up and down miles of stone passages and stonier staircases; and I find more than once the record that I stayed at home to rest, while Miss Buss took in a few more schools. A “Home for Boys,” and another for “Aged Poor,” are “merely incidental” in a day which includes an Art School, and a School for the Blind, in addition to the ordinary schools. We saw all the Company’s new institutions, and Fettes College, as well as Heriot’s Hospital, and the older foundations.

The palatial structures and perfect appointments of all these schools made Miss Buss, as she said, “go raging wild with envy,” but this did not prevent her from carefully noting all there was to see. Nothing was overlooked that was in any way suggestive. She found a good system of girls’ cloak-rooms, afterwards adopted, with her own improvements, in her own new buildings. She noted that Scotch scones were more wholesome than English buns for the children’s lunch, and in the future secured a Scotch baker to supply them for her 139own girls. She discussed time-tables and all the intricacies of school management, while I listened and marvelled, and felt more and more like an eminent educational fraud.

Among the few things actually novel to her was the teaching of pianoforte playing in classes, eight girls being taught at eight pianos at the same time by one master. Perfect time was thus secured, as the discord otherwise would have been quite beyond endurance. Some modification of this system was afterwards introduced by Miss Buss into her Upper School.

One thing that roused her disapproval, amidst so much that she admired, was the position of the women-teachers, who, if employed at all, held only inferior and ill-paid posts. Whilst in Edinburgh, she lost no chance of putting in a word for them, and after her return to London, she wrote: “I am firing shells into the Edinburgh schools one by one—Mr. Knox, Mr. Pryde, etc.—to make them use the Local Examinations. Professor Masson has been here this morning, and he advises me to go on, as good may come of it.”

Wherever Miss Buss went she acquired new ideas; but she also scattered them broadcast. As I had an introduction to Miss Eliza Wigham, the well-known leader in all philanthropic movements, we found ourselves in the centre of work of all kinds, being well pleased to discover that though Edinburgh might be ahead in education, London could still hold its own as regarded the employment of women.

I find that we had an afternoon tea, to which leading workers and teachers were invited, of which I record: “At our party we have had a grand seed-sowing. Everywhere Miss Buss throws out hints and suggestions likely to bear good fruit. There are many persons who will remember the talk to-day.”

140At Gateshead it was just the same. She secured several pupils for her friend Mr. C. H. Lake; and, although the sisters of these boys became pupils at Myra Lodge, she at that time set going the idea of the Girls’ High School, soon afterwards started, which took the younger members of these families from herself.

Before leaving Scotland we paid a visit to Dollar, where Miss Buss saw her ideal system at work, as she here found an old-established “mixed school.” Her theories were, on the whole, confirmed; but she found some drawbacks, which made her content to wait till all the perfect conditions could be secured.

After Dollar, we had a few days of quiet, with delightful drives in the scenery round the Bridge of Allan, where our friend Mr. Forster chanced to be staying at the Ochill Park Hydropathic Establishment.

The whole trip was full of interest, and not the least part of it was the delight of having that full mind pouring itself out on all possible subjects, and in scenes where the historic and poetic associations add a new charm to the beauty of nature.

But there was still more to come in an event which, important as it was in itself, acquired still greater force when taken in connection with the feelings excited in Miss Buss’ heart, by the sight of the richly endowed Edinburgh schools.

We broke our journey southwards at Gateshead, where we visited Mrs. Mawson at Ashfield, a house well known to many a worker as a place where pleasant things are wont to happen, and therefore most suitable for this most happy occurrence. The large family circle had gathered round Miss Buss, to hear her recent experiences, and to ask about her own work, entering into her hopes and plans for the 141future of the schools, when a telegram was brought to her. She read it; and, after a silent pause, rose and, crossing the room, put her arms round me in her own impulsive way, as she said, with rare tears in her voice as in her eyes, “Miss Ewart has given £1000 to the Camden School!”

How much this meant to the founder could be known only to those who had learnt how near to her heart was this dream of so many years. If only Miss Ewart herself could have seen, as we saw who were there, the joy thus given by her generous act, she would have been content, even without all that is still to come out of it to the girls of generations unborn, who will remember her name with gratitude.

Miss Ewart completed her good work by a large loan, which made it possible at once to think about buildings for the Camden School. Miss Buss left me at Gateshead, and went back to her work with a renewed energy and courage, which come out very noticeably in the letters received during the next few weeks.

“Myra Lodge, April 30, 1872.

“A few lines before going to the great Suffrage meeting. Forty new entries in the Camden Road. Thirty, so far, in Camden Street.”

“May 1, 10.30 p.m.

“I was interrupted last night by the arrival of a mother—Mrs. Crookes, wife of the Psychic Force Mr. Crookes. While she was talking, the cab arrived—no, no; just after she had done talking, the cab came with Mr. and Mrs. Sep, for me to go to the Suffrage meeting. We got back at one. We met everybody—Mrs. Tolmé among others. All day I was driving at express-train speed. At two o’clock Dr. Storrar came in, and, as he had a committee at University College at five, stayed till 4.30. I had had no lunch, and a council of teachers had assembled at four.

“The meeting lasted till eight. Tired out, I walked home 142with Miss Begbie, and found here Mr. and Mrs. J. waiting to arrange poor Mrs. B.’s affairs with me.

“They have just gone. The pressure of new pupils is enormous, and the reorganization of the school is also heavy. There is just the same pressure in Camden Street, but I have taken nothing up there, and cannot till to-morrow afternoon. Teachers, furniture, etc., are all to be found.

“Did I tell you on Sunday night that I asked Dr. Storrar if the lender of the £3000 was Miss Ewart? He does not answer, so we can draw our own conclusions.

“I am to ask her to fix the time for a special meeting, and must do so to-morrow, if I can find a few minutes.”

“Myra Lodge, May 3.

“I am sure you will believe in the impossibility of my writing much. The whole day—four o’clock now—I have been walking about, organizing classes.

“How to dovetail all the subjects of instruction and the pupils is a difficulty not to be described. Things are getting into order; but I have found no housekeeper, and want a new teacher.

“The Edinburgh papers are untouched, as I have not had a moment to arrange them. But yours will serve for the School-Mistresses’ meeting.

“Don’t be vexed, but the City meeting is quite off, so I judge from Mr. Elliott’s remarks; also there seems a feeling that all mention of us to the Princess Louise has been omitted. She called a meeting of Lord Lyttelton, Mrs. Cowper Temple, and others, to give her advice, and it seems Dr. Storrar wrote later to Lord Lyttelton to express his vexation that Lord L. had not pointed us out as leaders in the question of girls’ schools. We are to get at Princess Louise, but how is not settled. Dr. S. does not think we can hold a City meeting.

“Mrs. Bonham-Carter sends me £25. You shall see the note.

“My love to you and all the Ashfield circle. My little stay there was so pleasant, I wish I were with you now. Did I ever say how charming my Edinburgh trip was? My companion was such a dear, sweet girl.

“Did you find your new dress much tumbled, I wonder?

“Love to Mrs. Mawson and her girls.

“Did you not know that my Edinburgh trip was quite delightful to me?”

143“Myra Lodge, May 13, 1872.

“I had no opportunity of expressing my pleasure at seeing you again, so do it on paper.

“Dr. Storrar knew what Miss Ewart meant to do, and he knew what I only dimly suspected—namely, that she offered to lend the £3000 also.

“She paid the school a visit on Thursday with Madame Bodichon, and Dr. Storrar says she has grown into a regard for our work. She was perfectly charming to me to-day, and especially about Mrs. Bonham-Carter’s note.

“I whispered that I could make ducks and drakes of the £25: buy a dress if I liked, as the money was given to me for my comfort! She took me by the hand, and said she wished I would spend it exactly as I liked; it really was at my disposal.

“If Mr. Robins is not our architect, I am sure he will exonerate you and me. I hope he will. Perhaps things will go as we wish.

“Dr. S. distinctly told me he thought Miss Ewart had no particular person in her mind’s eye.

“I am going to Mrs. Tait in the morning, and out to dinner in the afternoon. I mention the latter merely to let you know that I shall be hurried to-morrow.”

“202, Camden Road, May 28.

“I fear I cannot manage to get to you to-morrow evening. There is a Dorcas meeting here, followed by a lecture, which will keep me very late; and I have been under an engagement for more than a fortnight to go to Mrs. Arthur Arnold’s At Home (A. Arnold is editor or proprietor of the Echo) at Stanley Gardens, nine o’clock.”

An introduction to the Rev. Stopford Brooke gave further pleasant encouragement as Mr. and Mrs. Stopford Brooke visited the schools, and were so much interested that they even spoke of sending their own daughters. The distance made this plan impracticable, but Mr. Brooke’s interest was shown in other ways. Miss Buss writes—

“Mr. Stopford Brooke sent yesterday a cheque for £13 8s. 11d., with a note saying his people were away, but he would try again next year. Decidedly the publication of his sermon would be 144helpful to the cause of education, but I hope the right place would be given to Miss Davies. Please also take care of her note, which I enclose. Mr. Latham seemed to think we might perhaps get £300 a year for endowment.

“The ‘leaving scholarships’ are like the £100 a year, for three years, given by the Merchants’ Company in Edinburgh. It would be delightful to send some girls to Girton College (papers of which I send you some copies) or to Germany, for music, etc.

“If it is fine on Tuesday afternoon, what do you say to meeting me here at six o’clock sharp, and of our going together to the Botanic Gardens?

“We should at least be quiet; and a walk would be pleasant, or a drive to the entrance, and a walk inside? I want to see you.”

“June, 1872.

“Oh, how very heavy the work has been this week! I was almost overdone this morning. Last Saturday, I had to hunt about for sites, etc. There is scarcely anything to be found that will do for the Camden School, and I have been nearly tearing my hair, because the ground opposite the Upper School may be sold for a chapel. It is very trying to see that splendid site, actually the only available spot in the district—nearly half an acre—commanding Hampstead, Kentish Town, Highgate, and Holloway, and yet be unable to find any one willing even to lend on the security of the land and building. From eighty to ninety years is the length of the lease. I have been doing my best to get people to take up the Upper School—MY very own work—as Miss Ewart has done the Lower, but so far have been unsuccessful. Could we get at Mr. George Moore anyhow? Mr. Reeve, of Portland Chapel, is his guide, philosopher, and friend. Could we enlist Mr. Reeve?

“It is very wicked, I know; but, all the same, I can’t help it. I feel quite sick with despair, with that land opposite, and such worry from overcrowding inside our school-house. We must refuse pupils. And we might have such a splendid school for three hundred girls! If only we could get the sinews of war!

“Why should not Agnes write to Mr. Froude herself? Mrs. Arnold’s soirée enabled me to speak to several people—notably to Mrs. Pennington, who is doing her best to persuade her husband to give us a thousand pounds.

“I did not tell you that on Thursday morning I called on Mr. Jowett at Cowper Street. He was occupied in taking over the 145schools an American and the Warden of the Fishmongers. My card was taken to his room, where was standing a tall, gentlemanly clergyman, whom I at once recognized as Mr. Rogers.

“At first the mere mention of my name did not strike him, but presently he took up the card, peered curiously at it, and then turned round to me. We had some talk. I told him about the land. He said, ‘Nothing venture, nothing get. You must take the land. Secure it by putting your £1500 down; then go boldly to the public with a clear, definite scheme. People will not listen to vague plans.’ He said, ‘Don’t amateur your plans. Get a surveyor’ (he mentioned one), ‘pay him to get up the information, etc.’

“I am quite sure we have been amateuring too long. We ought to carry in Mr. Robins. I have sent his testimonials to Dr. Storrar, and Mr. Robins’ application will come on Monday. In three days Mr. Robins can put us into a position to say we want so much.

“We must do and do and do.

“But Mr. Rogers says, ‘We shall get no help for the Upper School.’ I could have said, ‘You are a University man. How did you get your education? From old endowments? or from your father’s pockets ENTIRELY?’ But that would have been rude; so I was silent.

“I am resolved not to let the Lower School be put down on the new land FIRST. Both must be done together, or the Upper first. You see why it would be dangerous to risk the Upper School. If we can only get help for the Lower—so be it. We will then borrow for the Higher, and do the two together.”



“There is now no such thing as a ‘Woman’s Education Question’ apart from that of education generally; and the real question which has still to be fought for many a long year, I fear, is one as old as education itself: how is the child of either sex to be trained to the measure of the stature of the perfect human being?”—Letter from Mrs. Grey to Miss Buss, Dec., 1881.

In August, 1872, things suddenly assumed a fresh aspect. It was not till July, 1879—still seven years of waiting and working—that the goal was finally attained in the opening of the new schools. But, from August 2, the date of a letter from Mr. Roby, the Secretary of the Endowed Schools Commission, to Miss Buss, this goal came within sight. This letter Miss Buss enclosed to me, with a few words of comment, which touched me not a little.

“I send you a copy of a note which I got yesterday. Please send it on, with my love, to Mrs. Offord. It is the realization, probably, of our hopes. Yet I take it as quietly as I did Miss Ewart’s donation of a thousand pounds—not ungratefully, I trust. I have offered a meeting on Tuesday morning, but expect that will be too late. So, in October, things must be settled.

“I leave this place on Monday, so as to get through heaps of work in town, before starting for the Continent. My brother Sep will be in Brussels by the time we get there. Probably it will be better to say very little about Mr. Roby’s note. ‘There’s many a slip,’ etc.”

The letter, of so much interest to us all, ran as follows—

147“92, Kensington Gardens Square, W., Aug. 2, 1892.

Dear Miss Buss,

“I am very glad to be able to announce to you that the Commissioners have proposed to the Brewers’ Company, who are the Governors of Aldenham School, to subsidize the Camden Schools, and that the Governors have agreed to this.[8] As to details, nothing is settled, but I hope to get a handsome sum towards building, so as to complete, with what you have collected, all that is necessary, and also some annual endowments.

“The next step is for our Assistant-Commissioner to have a conference with you and your Board, so as to ascertain what is the amount needed, and what is the best form the assistance should take.

“If your Board could meet Latham anywhere (either at the Camden Schools, or at 2, Victoria Street) on an early day next week, it would be well.

“If not, the matter must wait till October, as we are all dispersing for the Vacation.

“Will you please to write to Latham at once?

“Yours very truly,

“(Signed) H. J. Roby.”

8.  In the reign of James II., “Richard Platt, a wealthy brewer, left a piece of land in trust to the Brewers’ Company to maintain a school in his native village, Aldenham.” On this piece of land now stands St. Pancras Station. The value of the property became too great for only the one school to be maintained, and the sum of £20,000 was given in order to build our two schools, one in the Camden Road, and the other in the Prince of Wales Road; in addition, a similar sum was given as an Endowment, thus using the money in the Parish of St. Pancras.

On the following day I had another note from Miss Buss, and for some time to come the whole story of the hopes and fears, the anticipation and delay, may be given in her own words from these letters—

“Aug. 8, 1872.

“I had a note yesterday from Mr. Latham, agreeing to an appointment with our Board, next Tuesday morning, at 2, Victoria Street, ten o’clock.

“This is your notice; so please don’t say you were not invited!

“In consequence of the delay in getting Mr. Roby’s note to me, I asked for an appointment next week, when Mr. Roby meant this week. But, as it turns out, my mistake is of no consequence, as Mr. Latham, the Assistant-Commissioner, is still in town.”

148“Aug. 10, 1872.

“I did not write to you yesterday, because I expected that very, very charming note, which came this morning. Dr. Storrar wrote to me to say—however, I enclose his note—that the meeting had better take place at 202, Camden Road. So I wrote at once to every one but you (and Miss Ewart and Mrs. Sidgwick, who are abroad), to say that our meeting was to be held in Camden Road, and not in Victoria Street. Twelve notes in all! Still, I think Dr. Storrar is right, and as only the trouble fell on me, it was better to ask every one to change. I hope Mr. Latham will not mind.”

“Aug. 11, 1872.

“Any money given to us by the Endowed Schools Commission will be for both schools. My only hope for the Upper School has been centred in the Endowed Commission. Our plan of placing the schools side by side will make the ground more easy to get.... I have long expected a grant from the Commission, but these things are so long about that there was a doubt on my mind whether the grant would be made for years to come.

“Mr. Latham says the part of the Platt income available for St. Pancras amounts to about a thousand a year. He does not like the notion of the two schools being together. So it is proposed that we ask for about £16,000 for the two buildings and ground for the Lower School, on the Platt estate, which belongs to the Brewers.”

The good news had come just as Miss Buss was starting for her summer holiday, this year spent in Germany and Switzerland. On her return she writes—

“Myra Lodge, Sept. 14.    11.30 p.m.

“Out of sight has not been out of mind, I assure you.

“I got back yesterday at about one o’clock a.m. and have ever since been in a whirlpool of work and consequent worry.

“There are more than fifty new entries for the North London School, 54 in fact, and more are coming on Monday.

“Over sixty are entered in the Camden School. The new buildings look very well—as a temporary thing—but must be furnished immediately in order to receive the new pupils; teachers must be found—housekeeper, servants, etc. I have been dashing through all sorts of work to-day, to get things in train.

“Anyway, our success justifies our taking the new place, and puts us into the way of paying for it.

149“My holidays were perfectly delightful; but I must tell you about them at some other time.

“My dear Annie, I am not sure at all about success not being too elating! I will try to guard against myself, but feel doubtful. Success of a certain kind is necessary to make one learn one’s self; but too much may be puffing up.

“However, it has gone midnight, so I will say no more than that I am

“Your loving


“that I am glad you are all well; that I shall not get any time to myself to-morrow, as I am to go to my father after service for the rest of the day, and that Monday will be a dreadfully hardworking day.

“Will you take care of the Times’ account of the Prize Day? The mighty Thunderer sent his own Reporter!”

“Myra Lodge, Dec. 10, 1872.

“There has been a long—2½ hours—conversation with Mr. Roby and Mr. Latham. It is proposed to send us a draft of the scheme before it is published, and this draft is (if possible) to be here by Monday week, the 23rd.

“Next Monday we shall send out notices for a special meeting to consider the draft.

“If the Brewers will give the sum £40,000, it is calculated that the buildings will cost from £20 to £25 per head, and about 400 girls in each school; but there will be sites, law, and scholarships to be provided.

“Mr. Roby thought the sum mentioned would not be too much for the two schools. This school is to be a First Grade, fixed pay of mistress £100 per annum, and a maximum cap. fee of £3. So my income might amount to £1300 per annum! The Camden mistress might get about £450 as a minimum, or £700 as a maximum. £200 endowment for rates, repairs, and £200 in each school for scholarships.”

“Jan. 1, 1873.

“My head aches at the thought of the worry of settling the claims to entry of the candidates waiting for admission. Your friends are somewhere about fiftieth.

“Our scheme is not yet published. I am anxious to see it in the Times, so that the three months may soon pass.”

150Then came six months of waiting before Miss Buss writes, on July 31, 1873—

“You will be glad to know that the Endowed Schools Amendment Act has passed the Commons. The Lords may turn it out. Perhaps they will. Won’t that be dreadful? I don’t know when the reading takes place.”

But on August 9, she writes from Bruges to the Rev. S. Buss—

“Of course you know that OUR Act—the Endowed Schools Commission—is really an Act now. It is mentioned in the Queen’s Speech.

“This morning, a copy of the scheme AS PUBLISHED has been sent to me. So the Commissioners have lost no time. In three months—that is, on the 7th or 8th Nov.—the scheme will be prepared for presentation to the Privy Council and then to Parliament. So that, humanly speaking, the whole scheme will be accomplished in a year’s time.

“It is curious how little elated one is, when fruition is so near!”

The next letter to me comes in the same strain, dated August 26—

“The Scheme is now advertised, and must wait three months, in order that opposition may be made. Then it goes to the Privy Council, and next year to Parliament. Altogether we may expect the twenty thousand (cash value, i.e. about eighteen thousand pounds) some time next year.

“I am most deeply grateful, but I am not elated. One’s elasticity gets sadly diminished as one grows older.”

After this a whole year elapses, filled with steady work in the schools, and brightened with gleams of help, such as are recorded on June 4, 1874—

“Within the last half-hour a note has come to me from Mr. Owen Roberts, clerk to the Clothworkers’ Company, to say they give us £105 per annum, during pleasure, for scholarships: 50 guineas to Girton, and two of 25 guineas for Merton. It is very pleasing.”

151The reason for this prolonged delay was shown at the next date, November 18, 1874—

“Mr. Lee called at the office of Committee of Council a few days ago, to ascertain how our scheme was progressing.

“He found that the Vicar of Aldenham had been opposing it, and that practically not anything has been done. It will be again advertised, and then wait two months, and, if opposed again, must go before Parliament. So there is no chance of its passing for an indefinite period. Shall I say, if ever?

“And the question now arises what are we to do about other matters? Are we to go on as we have been doing? What are we to do? Submit, I suppose, to the inevitable. But is it inevitable?

“Altogether, I feel we are in an impasse.”

A month later comes a little more hope—

“Oct. 8, 1874.

“I heard to-day (from a governor of that St. Martin’s School which carries off Miss Derrick) that he had met a Brewer who talked quite warmly of our school, and also of the plan to take up the North London Collegiate School for boys, but that the head wanted good money consideration for it. I am very glad to hear this in every way. This last certainly entitles me to ‘good consideration,’ and not to lectures from—various persons!”

The next step comes in a note from Mrs. Grey—

“18, Cadogan Place, Jan. 18, 1875.

My dear Miss Buss,

“I enclose a note I received on Saturday morning from Mr. Richmond, which please return. I congratulate you with all my heart on this crowning of your labours.

“Mr. Holloway has given us no further sign.

“Most sincerely yours,

M. G. Grey.”

This news of course came in due form to the governing body, but it seems to have been known to various friends earlier, giving them the opportunity of expressing their sympathy, as, in sending me Mrs. Grey’s note, Miss Buss remarks—

152“Mrs. Grey’s note enclosed one from Mr. Richmond, secretary of Endowed Commission, saying that the Lord President of the Council—I suppose that means Education Department—‘had approved of the scheme for giving Miss Buss’ Schools the Platt Endowment’—or words to this effect. Curiously enough, I am not in the least elated, but have a sort of choking sensation when I stop to think.

“Mr. Fitch wrote to me on Saturday somewhat to same effect, and Miss Davies, as I told you, gave me a message from him, on the 14th, Sep’s birthday, and Dr. and Mrs. Hodgson’s wedding-day.

“Are you willing to beg a little for the foundation of a Chair of Education? The Scotch have JUST founded two, and the Government—Conservative too!—have given £10,000 to complete them. We might get some help from Government if we got £5000 before asking it.”

“Endowed Schools Department,
“2, Victoria Street, S.W.,
“April 12, 1875.

My dear Miss Buss,

“Aldenham and the North London Schemes were both approved by the Lord President on Jan. 15. The former was, on petition laid upon the table of the two Houses of Parliament; but no petition was presented praying that the latter should be so submitted to Parliament. However, the time provided by the Act has expired, and both schemes will almost certainly be approved by Her Majesty at the next Council.

“So it is the opinion both at the Council Office and here, that the Schemes are as safe as anything can be which has not actually received formal and final sanction.

“With the kindest good wishes,

“I am ever, my dear Miss Buss,

“Very truly yours,

J. G. Fitch.”

On May 14, 1875, I received this welcome note—

My dear Annie,

“The Queen signed our scheme at yesterday’s Privy Council. The news has just come from Mr. Fitch.

“Ever your loving


153This looked like the end of all anxieties. But there were still four years to elapse before that point was reached. Action was taken at once in the appointment of Mr. E. C. Robins as architect, and Miss Buss’ spare time went in plans and in consultation with him at special committees without end. It had to be discussed over and over whether the two schools should be together or separate; the choice of sites occupied time and thought, and, interesting and exciting as it all might be, it was all so much added to the pressure of the work, where success meant increasing numbers and constant reorganization in both schools.

Here is a specimen of the extra worries that from time to time came to swell the account—

“June 8, 1876.

“A new complication has sprung up. The Charity Commissioners write to ask how much money we intend to put by yearly, to accumulate at compound interest, to buy up the lease when it expires. We must call a meeting. It seems to me like a rent-charge, and if we are to do this, I want to know how we are benefited?

“We had better have been left alone. Suppose the school numbers went down, where would the governors be?

“In my lifetime, too, this would mean paralysis of every thing we need, in order to put by money.

“It is very trying.”

This difficulty was overcome, but still the plan remained for both schools to be erected on one site—

“June 10, 1876.

“Mr. Latham has written a long (private) letter to me in which he objects (as I do in my heart) to both schools being put on the same site, and suggests cutting down our plans and borrowing.”

Again sweets mingled with the bitter, when Miss Buss could report on December 18, 1876—

154Dearest Annie,

“Will you return Mr. Owen Roberts’ letter? Is it not a delightful Christmas box? A whole hall!”

This letter announced the intention of the Clothworkers’ Company to add the Great Hall to the new buildings contemplated by the Brewers’ Company.

But still came further difficulties—

“Jan. 25, 1877.

“What do you think of my feelings at reading the following passage in the last letter from the Charity Commission? ‘We sanction the plans for the Camden School, on the distinct understanding that the buildings of the Upper School remain, for the present, in abeyance.’

“Poor Mr. Robins! He wants to go on with the Camden, but that seems to me to doom the Upper School. Is it not a constant worry? We must face the only possible outlet: Mr. Latham’s suggestion of ‘raising the fees without delay.’”

The next letter is dated February 8, 1877, and shows Miss Buss in one of her (fortunately rare) depressed moods; but it also shows her usual self-sacrifice—

“We have to-day received a note, saying that, unless we have new facts to lay before them, the Charity Commissioners adhere to their decision, though they will hear what we have to say on Thursday. This means that the Upper School must be left as it is, and the Camden be begun.

“There seems no outlook. On the whole, matters look very gloomy. I have been struggling so much against a sort of sick despair that I am literally sore all over. The revulsion from hope to a state of hopelessness has produced on me the strange bodily soreness alluded to.

“There seems only one chance, and that is, to give an annual sum of £800 or £1000 a year towards the debt out of my income from the school, and to make my friends insist on the plans being carried out. If, in addition, we raise the fees one guinea per annum, i.e. 7s. per term, we shall realize another £500, and the saving of rent, when buildings are completed, will add another £300. All this could be applied to paying the debt, so that the debt could soon be paid off, supposing the school to go on successfully.

155“The discipline of life is very hard, and one’s faith is not as strong as it ought to be. I do try to cast all my care on Him, who careth even for me; but it is very, very hard to cling closely.

“I have to go to Cheltenham to-morrow. I shall not be home until late on Saturday night.

“No doubt the sun is still shining behind the clouds! Perhaps even these may clear off in some unexpected way.”

“Feb. 13, 1877.

“Yesterday’s meeting went smoothly. Miss Ewart was very kind. She told me in my room that she was quite sorry for me and that she sympathized strongly.

“Mr. Buxton and Mr. Worsley, as representatives of the donors of the money, mean to protest against abandoning the Upper School, or delaying its buildings. Mr. Lee and Mr. Thorold also will make a stand; the former is coming up on purpose. I will send you a line to say what hope there is.

“We have another meeting on Monday, of which you have probably had notice.

“The governors granted all the things I asked for, in the way of salaries, house expenses, etc. Mr. Robins was not kept waiting, and got away when he had explained to Miss E. the ventilation matter.

“At the last meeting, he was kept two hours, and then not summoned. It made me quite fidgety and uncomfortable. I think his patience is almost exhausted. What a good friend he is!

“I wrote a note to the chairman for yesterday’s meeting, offering—(1) on condition of not letting the Upper School be ‘put in abeyance,’ (2) of raising the fees, and (3) of adding the sum so obtained to the rent saved by the buildings (about £800 per annum)—to pay another sum of £800 per annum towards the building fund, during my working life, or so long as necessary. This note was read in my absence.

“I must, as Alfred says, be allowed ‘to endow my own child.’ I also wrote to Mr. Lee, making the same offer. I tell you, as you would have heard it had you been able to be present.

“My very dear Annie, if only some of my cares would save you from yours, how thankful I should be.

“May God bless and strengthen you.

“Ever yours lovingly,


156“Feb. 18, 1877.

“The answer from the Charity Commissioners is expected next week. I should think it will be favourable.

“All this discipline is strengthening, and helps one to strengthen others, if one will but learn the lesson it is meant to teach. I have not been rebellious this time, I think, but have tried to use means and be content with the issue.”

“April 14.

“Mr. Worsley writes to say that the Brewers’ Company will take up the loan of £8000, and therefore there need be no delay in beginning the Camden School.

“Also that there will be no necessity for me to insure my life for the debt.

“So ends our great difficulty!”

In July, 1878, there is a note referring to the work involved in laying the memorial stones of the new building, and an indication of delay, since Miss Buss says—

“The Clothworkers gave us a cheque for £2500, which will carry us on till October, by which time we hope either to have the freehold or the Alice Owen money. If not, I am to advance what I can, and that wonderful Mr. Robins will also advance, if necessary. So far as I can understand, the Charity Commissioners have suggested to the Brewers that the latter should lend us money, at a moderate rate of interest, from their other educational trust, the Alice Owen, in Islington. The committee met to discuss and report on the security, etc. I hear that the best security will be a life insurance taken up by me, but nothing was settled.”

The grand finale came at last when the buildings were completed, as more extracts will show—

“March 14, 1879.

“Mr. E. N. Buxton was splendid to-day at the governors’ meeting, and he urged that we should go on, and never mind about the Charity Commission difficulties. We have asked the Princess of Wales!”

“April 3, 1879.

“The Princess of Wales accepts our invitation to open our new buildings and give the prizes. I do hope nothing will prevent her keeping her promise. As yet I do not want the fact known 157in the school. I shall be torn to pieces, and have to fight over every examination paper and mark, because every girl, and her parents, will be so resolved to get a prize from the hands of our fair, young, and beloved Princess!

“I want, in the future, Foundation Day to be always a day of importance in the year. Twenty-nine years! Almost a lifetime.”

“June 28, 1879.

“How are you all? I often think of you, but the pressure of work now is hardly to be imagined! Independently of the Royal visit, there are the festivities of the girls themselves, in connection with the New Hall. Some French proverbs to be acted, and some extracts from Les Femmes Savantes, also the final scene in the Merchant of Venice.”

For a very pleasant little sketch of the school buildings I am indebted to Miss Edith Aitkin—

“The school buildings, which are the fruit of so much thought and endeavour, stand at the corner of Sandall Road, a few yards back from the main Camden Road. They are of dark red brick, and group themselves round a part of the original structure which is three stories high, and which culminates in a conical-roofed tower, from which each morning a bell rings out to summon the neighbourhood and all and sundry happily, not ‘unwillingly, to school.’ It is to be regretted that small and rather mean-looking houses crowd round too closely to allow the ordinary passer-by to form any adequate idea either of the size of the place or of its real dignity of proportion. The building falls naturally into two parts; first, there is the original structure, modified and extended, facing Sandall Road; and secondly, round the corner is the Clothworkers’ Hall, and the main body of class-rooms behind it. This hall, with its long, stained-glass windows, their tops breaking the line of the roof, and its handsome gateway of honour, is the most interesting feature of the building as seen from outside.

“The usual entrance is at the corner, in the very middle of the school, and the impression received is at once delightful and characteristic. Frances Mary Buss, the daughter of a painter, all her life delighted in light and colour. She was no ascetic, but aimed always at full use of all good gifts. As one enters to the left is the head-mistress’ sitting-room—the ‘Blue Room,’ reminding one that blue was her favourite personal colour, the colour she wore as a girl, the colour of the satin dress in the early Victorian 158portrait painted of her by her father. The tiles of the fireplace, painted by the elder girls, are green and blue, and, dare one say, Morris-y before their time. In front we see a stained-glass window, to the memory of pious founders, Dame Alice Owen, and Alderman Richard Platt. To the right is a handsome brass recording the main facts of the foundation of the school. On each side of this are doorways leading to the office, where visitors are received in the first instance, and to the library wing. Passing forwards, we mount a few steps and turn to the left into the hall. This was always Miss Buss’ pride, and deserves the exclamation, ‘Oh, how pretty!’ which nearly every one makes on entering it for the first time. Other schools have halls, some large and fine in their way, but I do not think there is any other so bright and cheerful, so warm with harmonious colour, so pretty. At one end is the main platform, with the organ—the gift of old pupils—recessed in the wall behind it. The long windows, with window-seats and high ledges on which are plants, pour down coloured light along one side. Some are already filled with stained glass, and the middle one, which has always been called Founders’ Window, because it was partly filled by the arms of those companies and individuals who have endowed the school, is to be completed as the special memorial of her who was, after all, our main founder. Along the opposite side and across the end runs a gallery of pitchpine. The walls have a dado of pitchpine, and are lined with smooth terra-cotta brick, let into which at one end, under the gallery, are two medallions, one a portrait of the Princess of Wales, to mark the day of her visit, and all that it signified, ‘with a white stone,’ as Miss Buss said. Five class-rooms open into the hall along one side under the gallery, five more on to the gallery, and others on to a corridor above. To secure quiet in the hall for examinations, etc., curtains can be drawn shutting off the part under the gallery as a passage-way to the class-rooms. These are bluish-green, and, with the flowers of the platform and window-ledges, give a pretty effect of colour. To the left of the platform hangs Miss Buss’ portrait, so that she seems to be amongst us still in a strange quiet fashion.

“To describe one class-room is, to the outsider, to describe them all. A teacher’s platform facing thirty desks, with a large slate or blackboard behind—Tobins’ pipes, and ventilators over the doors—this is the now familiar appearance of a schoolroom. More distinctive features are the window-gardens, the pitchpine dado, and eminently practical lining of smooth brick, on which 159numerous photographs display themselves. Miss Buss’ Roman visits explain the fact that very many are views of Rome and of classical sculpture. To those interested in the details of the school class-rooms take on distinctive features. In one is the challenge cup held for the term as the result of a singing competition amongst a number of classes. In another are copies of Raphael’s Cartoons. In another a very special and original fireplace decoration. In some we notice spinal chairs, or modified desks, recommended for special girls by the lady doctor attached to the school.

“A complete survey is a long business, and even a cursory inspection involves some walking, for we cannot omit to mount to the end of the top corridor to see the large drawing-school, with its array of casts, glass, perspective planes, etc. This is lighted from above, and contains over the fireplace a large painting by Mr. R. W. Buss, of an Elizabethan Christmas, throwing out a fine glow of colour. Several small isolated rooms on this floor also are used as music-rooms.

“On the gallery floor it is absolutely necessary to inspect the lecture-room and laboratory. The former can seat about a hundred and fifty girls, and is provided with a proper lecture-table for experiments, and also with a lantern and screen. The laboratory is fitted with working benches for twenty-four girls at a time. In the little room between is a really good balance for the use of the more advanced students.

“A plunge into the basement must follow, for the care with which provision has been made for cloak-rooms, lavatories, kitchen, dining-room, and drying-room for wet clothes in winter, is very striking. Also a long passage, floored with wooden bricks, leads to the gymnasium, a splendid room a hundred feet long, and about forty feet high. This offers a certain amount of compensation for a very moderate playground behind the school. The playground, such as it is, is immensely prized for rounders, skipping, etc., while competition is very keen for the three fives courts which open on it at one side. The gymnasium is in constant use all the morning, for every class goes down there for a gymnastic lesson, on Miss Chreimann’s system, twice a week, besides a daily short drill directed by the form mistresses. A special class is held on one afternoon for additional gymnastic exercises, and another for medical drill, when girls with a tendency to some special defect are put through special exercises recommended by the doctor mentioned above, who examines all the girls of the school at certain intervals.

“Visitors may very well be glad to rest before leaving. The 160main library will probably contain sixth-form girls studying under a strict silence rule. Not to set a bad example, we will pass through to the museum to do any talking. The teachers’ library is beyond again, a pretty room with several sofas, and a window-seat under the stained-glass window which decorates this wing.

“There are many details one would like to comment upon, such as the fountains on each floor supplied with filtered water, the special taps to be used in case of fire, with directions as to the best method of procedure hung up beside them, the plans displayed for reference of the whole system of gas- and water-pipes. All these are very eloquent of her whose dream—realized as all dreams are not—has borne the translation into a reality which can never be truly prosaic, and stands here in solid brick, the North London Collegiate School for Girls, Sandall Road, Camden Road, N.W.”

On July 18, 1879, the whole of St. Pancras was astir with the unwonted excitement of a Royal visit, and the crowds that for miles lined the streets showed their loyalty by hearty acclamations.

The Prince and Princess, accompanied by the Countess of Macclesfield and Baron Colville of Culross, with Mr. Holzmann and Lieut. Clarke, were met at the door of the new building by Miss Buss and the Bishop of Rochester—then chairman of the Board—passing through a double line of governors on their way to the library, where Miss Aitkin, the winner of a Girton Scholarship, presented a bouquet of Malmaison roses. The whole party then proceeded to the tent erected in the playground, where the Camden Street pupils waited to receive their prizes from the gracious lady whose coming had been so ardently desired.


Adjournment to the great hall followed, when the girls of the Upper School had their turn, a hundred and fifty being made happy possessors of prizes from the same kind hand. Songs and speeches came next, and the Prince certainly looked as if his words were no 163empty compliment, as he said that none of their many functions had given greater pleasure either to the Princess or himself than their visit to these schools.

In the library, where tea was served, the Prince and Princess talked for some time with Miss Buss about her work. In addition to the whole body of governors, there were present Canon Spence, Vicar of St. Pancras, the Rev. William Rogers, Founder of the Cowper Street School, the Rev. Llewellyn Davies (Miss Davies being unable to be present), Sir T. Fowell Buxton, Mr. Edward North Buxton, the Masters of the Brewers’ and of the Clothworkers’ Company, Mr. Robins, the architect to the schools, and other friends.

On the same evening, the occasion was celebrated by a dinner given by Canon Spence and the Churchwardens of St. Pancras, when the health of the founder of the schools came after that of the Royal visitors. Mr. Robins, in giving this toast, remarked that “Miss Buss had been of great help to him in the building of the schools, for she was a thoroughly practical woman, and knew more about plans than many men.”

Taking it altogether, there was every ground for the satisfaction which, as the Rev. A. J. Buss said, in response, his sister must feel in a day—

“to which she had long looked forward, and to which she would look back with gratification, of which no small part would be due to the recognition of her services by the representatives of the parish in which she had spent her working life.”

From among the innumerable letters of congratulation pouring in from all sides a few may be given which were specially treasured by the Founder, who from this day felt herself set free for the internal work of the schools, all anxiety being ended as to their external conditions.

164Foremost among these is one from Mr. Spencer Charrington, who, as Master of the Brewers’ Company, thanks Miss Buss for his reception, expressing his full satisfaction in the completion of the work in which the Company had taken so deep an interest.

Not less gratifying was a testimony from Mr. Fitch to the scholastic value of Miss Buss’ own special part of the work—

“5, Lancaster Terrace, July 23, 1879.

My dear Miss Buss,

“Let me congratulate you, as I do most heartily, on the remarkable success which has attended your candidates at the London Matriculation. I know of no school, either for girls or boys, which, having sent up sixteen candidates, has passed nine of them in the Honour division and in the First Class. Nobody needed any additional proofs of the wisdom and value of the methods which you have adopted, and which you have done so much to extend and popularize. Still, every new evidence of the fact must be gratifying to you; and I assure you it is not less so to the many friends who know of your work, and who have long recognized it as some of the soundest, the most fruitful, and the most beneficent work of our time.

“The high proportion of success attained by the female candidates was the subject of special remark at the Senate this afternoon; and I need hardly say, of special felicitation to a good many of us.

“Yours very truly,

J. G. Fitch.”

To the same effect is the expression of warm sympathy from Mrs. Grey—

“Harbledown Rectory, Canterbury, July 20, 1879.

My dear Miss Buss,

“I must write you a few lines to congratulate you on your splendid opening ceremonial and prize-giving. When I remember the position of the schools when I had the good fortune to make your acquaintance, and compare it with the statements made last Tuesday, it seems like something in a fairy-tale. And 165yet with what ceaseless toil has each step been won. It does one’s heart good, and makes one think better of life, to see such a brave, life-long fight as yours crowned at last—crowned, too, while your head can still wear the crown, and with years before you in which to ripen the fruits of your victory. I have often feared that you would break down under the strain of final success come too late. Thank God it is not so.

“I do not know when I shall see you, unless you come to Rome at Christmas.

“Do not forget me on my shelf, and believe me ever,

“Yours affectionately,

Maria G. Grey.”

Not less warm, nor less warmly appreciated, was a letter from Dr. Thorold, who had acted as the first chairman to the united governing body, after the reconstruction which admitted the representatives of the Brewers’ and the Clothworkers’ Companies. During his chairmanship, Dr. Thorold had been raised to the Bench, but, with all his new duties, as Bishop of Rochester, he had remained faithful to the work of which he had been one of the very earliest friends—

“Selsdon Park, July 19, 1879.

Dear Miss Buss,

“I must write one line of warm and sincere congratulation to you, on what I may call the coronation day of the work to which you have given your life.

“While I was careful privately to inform the Prince of Wales of the service you have so conspicuously rendered to the education of girls for so many years past, all that he and the Princess saw must only have confirmed their impression of the solidity of the work to which they gave their cheerful and ample recognition.

“I say to you, God bless your work, and you in it, to the glory of His Holy Name!

“And I say it as one of your warm and sincere and many friends....

“Most truly yours,

A. W. Roffen.”



“In honour preferring one another.”

“The relationship between head-mistress and teachers was surely most unique, for Miss Buss seemed never to tire of having her teachers about her, and even in the holidays they were constantly at her country house.”

So writes one of the members of the staff, whose knowledge dates from the time when she was a “very naughty little girl of seven, constantly sent into the ‘parlour,’” where she hid behind the door, waiting till, with a pained expression, never forgotten in all these years, Miss Buss would turn to say, “Marion, here again! I am so sorry,” and then take the weeping child on her lap, and talk till she could be sent away with the kiss that made her happy as well as good.

That this loving influence was successful is proved by the sequel—

“One day, to my great surprise, Miss Buss asked me if I would like to become a teacher in the school! What I should have missed in my life if I had refused I dare not think, for, from that day to this, it has been a life-long pleasure to be with her, to share in even so small a degree her work, and, above all, to feel her inspiration!”

And so many more of the staff had, in like manner, 167been pupils that the habit of “mothering” them went on, and was quite naturally extended to new-comers.

From another of the staff we have, in three scenes, a life-story. The first shows Miss Buss at her happiest with a little child—

“I cannot tell you how much I owe her—nearly everything, I think, that makes life worth living. I do not remember any time in my life when her name was not to me a loved and honoured one.

“My sister was a pupil of the school before me, and when I was quite little I remember longing for my tenth birthday, when I should be old enough to go there myself. I did not, as a matter of fact, go till several years later, as I was rather a delicate child. My first introduction to Miss Buss must have been when I was very small, for my sister used to tell me how she took me into the office, and how Miss Buss set me on the table before her and put my two little feet together, as she told me I was not quite ready for her class just yet. How like that is to her way with little children! I think I must have loved her from that very time!”

The child is a woman grown as we see her again—

“I was in great trouble and perplexity, and in the midst of it went to spend my holidays with Miss Buss at Fécamp. It was nearly midnight when we reached her, but she was sitting up for us, with some hot soup ready, and everything was thought of as it might have been by my own mother. I had no mother then; but when Miss Buss took off my wraps with her own hands, and folded me in her arms, I felt that a second mother had indeed been given to me. Perhaps I felt this the more because I was with her at Herne Bay when the news came of my own mother’s sudden death. It was a Sunday morning, and the trains would not allow of my going home till later in the day. It would have been a terrible time but for Miss Buss’ tenderness. She seemed to feel with me as if the loss were her own. I shall never, never forget it.”

In sorrow, in joy, or in disappointment she was ever ready with comfort, with sympathy, and with cheer. The third scene is given in a letter, sent with the remark: “How characteristic it was of her warm sympathy with all with whom she had to do”—

168“Nov., 1881.

My dear Emily,

“Old pupil and friend of so many years! I send you my warmest congratulations. I am very glad for you and our dear friend Mrs. Bryant, also for Florence Eves and Constance Dicker.

“It seems to us short-sighted mortals that it would be desirable to have our pleasures unmixed, but it never is so. My pleasure is alloyed by my dear R——’s and E——’s failure, and yours by the absence of your dear mother! But ‘all things work together for good,’ if we will but believe.

“Always yours lovingly,

Frances M. Buss.

“To Miss Emily Findon, B.A.”

Equally to the point is another note, of which the recipient says: “The whole tone was so strong and so strengthening, so different from the many letters of kind, but more or less worrying, sympathy received at the time”—


My dear A——,

“I am very sorry to hear that you and X—— have failed to get through the ‘Intermediate.’ I send you my love and sympathy. Do not fret. You will succeed later on, when, as I hope, you will try again; and your knowledge will be all the firmer for having to work longer.

“You will, no doubt, carry out the proposed plan, viz. go to Cambridge for a year, and leave the degree till after? You will have a very happy time at Cambridge, I know.

“Have you heard how Y—— is getting on in Sweden? How well I remember my delightful holiday there.”

And with an account of life at a German spa, and messages to other members of the family, the letter ends, hopeful and cheery.

It was always delightful to watch Miss Buss with those of her former “children” who had expanded into the dignity of B.A., or B.Sc., and were entitled to wear the gown and “mortar-board” appertaining to this new rank. No mother ever took more interest in her girls’ 169first party frock or presentation robes than did Miss Buss in those early days in the then quite novel attire of her “girl-graduates.” Mrs. Bryant had not been a pupil in the school, but she was young enough to pass for one, and the sight of her gorgeous gold-and-scarlet doctor’s gown was a supreme joy to her older friend, to whom no such distinction had been possible in her own young days. There was never a touch of envy or of selfish regret in this sympathy with the winners of the honours for which she herself had longed in vain—no, not in vain, since that longing had helped to open the way to those who had since outstripped her in the race. Miss Toplis, in her sketch of Miss Buss, in the Educational Review, calls attention to—

“two characteristics which may perhaps be known only to those in daily contact with her. One was that jealousy and selfishness were impossible to her nature; the other, her power of living in the lives of others. The success or distinction of friend or colleague was one of her greatest pleasures. No one could share such pleasures as Miss Buss did, and the loss of her ever-ready sympathy in joy or sorrow is one of the realities we cannot yet face.”

In such sympathy, Miss Buss certainly well earned the right to the exaltation expressed in a postscript to a letter on “guild” work to Mr. Garrod, when she says, apropos of the recent success of Miss Philippa Fawcett at Cambridge, “Thank God, we have abolished sex in education!”

There are some amusing little touches of the purely feminine in connection with these first academic gowns and hoods, which were presented by the staff to its first graduates at a fancy-dress ball given by Miss Buss in honour of the occasion. The hoods were made among themselves, the pattern being taken from that of Sir Philip Magnus, in the intervals of his inspection 170of the school. Mrs. Bryant cut them out, and the pieces left over of the yellow and brown silk are still in the drawer where thrifty housewives keep their pieces.

It may be imagined that no small excitement prevailed among the girl-graduates about the first public appearance at Burlington House in the full dress. On the first occasion of the presentation of degrees to women, the shy counsel prevailed, and the ladies went up in their usual garb. The next step is thus described by Mrs. Bryant—

“But the following year we called a meeting to settle among ourselves, if possible unanimously, the course to be pursued. I confess I resented the idea of being denied my academicals as much as I have thought it hard to appear as a number only in the Senior Cambridge lists years before. There was much hesitation on the part of several, however, but in the end I was instructed to write to the Registrar enclosing our resolution to wear the academic dress if no objection to this course was made by the senate. There was no lack of comedy in the situation—consulting a body of staid and serious gentlemen as to whether we should or should not wear the robes to which we were entitled by the University regulations. However, it was necessary to allay all doubt, and the message from the senate received in reply settled the question for that time and henceforth. We have often smiled over these little incidents, seeing what universal approval was at once won for our ‘gowns and hoods.’ And at school, on festive days, when these are worn, the poor Cambridge graduates—graduates in all but name—grieve because they have no such symbol with which to deck—it does not veil—their femininity.”

It may not be out of place here to give some extracts from letters to Miss Buss from Mrs. William Grey which show how needlework is regarded by the leading educationalists. Speaking of the Maria Grey Training School (in connection with the College), Mrs. Grey writes—

“Rome, Nov. 27, 1880.

“I also wish to give a yearly prize of £2 to the school for two subjects. You have suggested Botany and Needlework. But as 171I know nothing of botany, and have always said that needlework should be taught at home to girls above the elementary school class, I should prefer English or French. If, however, you have a special reason for wishing for a Botany prize, I will at once agree to that instead of the French.”

“Hôtel du Louvre, Rome, Jan. 7, 1882.

“Your pleasant and affectionate letter reached me some days ago. The kind feeling you express warms one’s heart, at this distance from home, when one feels very acutely too often that one has drifted away from all who know, or care, or are cared for. One’s life feels so useless, and the current of life seems so strong in England that those who can no longer go on with it have a sense of isolation which kind words like yours break in upon most soothingly.

“I wanted to tell you that you have nearly, if not quite, converted me to the needlework in schools to which I have always been opposed on our council—not from any want of realizing the importance of the art, but because it is one that ought to be taught at home. I was a great worker till a few years ago. In all our young days we made everything we wore, and I was so fond of embroidery that I scarcely trusted myself to look at it in the morning, lest I should be tempted to waste my time upon it. I tell you this that you may see how little likely I am to undervalue the art; and if mothers are so foolish or so ignorant as not to teach it, then, sooner than leave it untaught, I acknowledge that we ought to take it up.

“But with our scanty time and overcrowded subjects, the difficulty is very great. This reminds me of what I thought a good thing in the St. Martin’s Lane School—and I believe it was your friend Miss Doreck who established it—and that was a prize for the best piece of needlework done in the holidays. That stirs mothers as well as daughters.”

Those who were inside the University Movement had many a quiet laugh over the baseless terrors of the outsiders who prophesied the dire results to arise from the possession of degrees by women. I remember the appreciation with which Miss Buss repeated a story she had just heard from one of her girls, who had gone to a dance shortly after gaining her B.A. degree, whilst 172the subject was still matter for talk. Her partner, feeling himself quite safe with this peculiarly fair, sweet, girlish-looking girl, in her pretty evening frock, had made himself merry over the lady-graduates, winding up with the remark, “There is always something quite unmistakable about them, don’t you know! You can’t fail to spot them at a glance!” His very amiable partner only replied gently, “Do you think so?”

But one of her friends proved less merciful, and the poor young man found himself in a position to sympathize with another victim, also at an evening party, who had been for some time talking, without knowing it, to the fair winner of a prize essay on some abstruse point of law. When at last he discovered her name, the shock was so great that, without waiting to collect himself, he blurted out, “What! You Miss Orme? Why, I thought you hadn’t an idea in your head!”—a remark naturally treasured by that lady as one of her most cherished compliments.

To those who are familiar with life at the North London Collegiate Schools, knowing the relations already indicated between the head-mistress and her staff, there is something of the same entertainment in one of the press notices relating to Miss Buss and her work—almost the only notice not wholly sympathetic. It did, indeed, do full justice to her exceptional qualities, but it concludes with a remark worthy of preservation as a valuable fossil for future explorers into the early history of the new education. The reviewer feels that he “cannot let the vague sentiment occasioned by her death pass without an honest criticism of her work,” thus concluding this criticism—

“It is perfectly true that ‘the influence of her work stretched beyond her own two schools,’ as the Times says; but perhaps there has been as much loss as gain in this. The movement for 173founding ‘High Schools for Girls’ spread, and Miss Buss’ establishments were the models; the consequence is that a High School education only fits a girl to be a High School teacher—and she could scarcely choose a worse calling.”

It must be inconsistent with the dignity of a “Saturday Reviewer” to explain himself, since this writer remorselessly leaves the whole class of High School teachers—including, of course, those of the “model establishments”—under the ban of this hopeless condemnation.

It could be wished that this critic might have gone over at least two of the schools thus judged, and have been present at some of the varied “functions,” when the head-mistress was found in the midst of her “children.” The teachers holding their classes might possibly have failed to please him, since he still holds the belief in “sex in education”; but the girlish laughter of the gymnasium, where it was difficult to distinguish teacher from pupil, would have rung in his ears with a pleasant chime; or that same gymnasium on “Founder’s Day,” with its show of useful garments for the poor, and of ingeniously constructed toys for the children of the hospitals, would have been a sight to the credit alike of teachers and taught; or, again, if lucky enough to witness a performance of the Amateur Dramatic Club—an association among the teachers—he might have gone away comforted by the knowledge that girlish grace and brightness, as well as womanly thought and goodness, are not the exclusive prerogative of women outside the new public schools for girls.

One of the members of the Amateur Dramatic Club writes—

“Nowhere was Miss Buss’ organizing power more visible to us girls than as stage-manager. In the summer of 1882, for the last time, the Sixth Form gave tableaux vivants on two or three 174consecutive days. Miss Buss herself said she could not undertake them again, as the preparation fell too heavily on her and the staff at the end of the summer term. For us, after our London Matriculation Examination it was only rest and pleasure. They were a brilliant success; and Miss Buss praised us openly for the way in which we had worked for each other, and the pleasure we had shown in each other’s parts. Looking back, I am convinced that it was to her that we owed the kindly spirit which did indeed animate us, and still brings back that summer as a delightful memory. It would indeed have been difficult to quarrel when she was working her hardest to make each one enjoy herself.”

Very far indeed from dull or prosy were the associations of school or college to these girls. Here is one bit of fun, from some “Tableaux” given in 1869, for the benefit of Hitchin, which realized £13. At the close of a series of very artistic pictures, the curtain rose on a concourse of European nations, and Britannia, coming to life, advanced to the front, with an appeal written by an “Old Girl,” an appeal not quite obsolete even in our day—

“There was an old woman who lived in her shoe,
She had so many daughters she didn’t know what to do;
For they all of them possibly couldn’t be wed,
So she gave them a good education instead.
(Ruefully) But alas and alack for that poor old dame,
The better she taught them the faster they came!
(Solemnly) Hark to the echo of ‘sublime despair’
That sobs along the mournful wintry air!
(Distant chorus of girls’ voices.)
We’ve got no work to do,
We’ve got no work to do,
We’ve done our hair,
And we declare
We’ve nothing else to do!
(Air, ‘Molly Bawn.’)
Ye college dons, why leave us pining,
Sure there’ll be classes for us too;
Ne’er deem bright eyes more bright are shining
Because they’ve nothing else to do.”

175Of the graver side of their work, and as giving an idea of the kind of relation existing between Miss Buss and her “dear colleagues,” or “dear fellow-workers,” as she loved to call them, Mrs. Bryant gives us an outline, which lets us see not merely the workers themselves, but also the high quality of their work—

“I have been asked to write some account of these latter—perhaps we might call them triumphant—years of my dear friend’s life-work, as I saw them in the light of my close connection with her, and the marvellous friendship she extended to me. These were the years when she had entered, in one sense, into the fruits of her labours. The school she founded had become a public school—‘Miss Buss’ school’ still—but immortalized. The women’s educational movement, in the moulding of which she had been a potent force, had taken shape, and was moving to its goal—that goal of equal opportunity with the hitherto more favoured sex, which we younger women are apt to regard as our natural birthright, although we have not entirely secured it yet. There were many worries for her still, and very much work on educational problems; but as regards the general question of the education of girls, the critical turnings on the road were practically passed when I joined it, and to reverse the course of our educational efforts would have been like turning back the Thames at—well, not London Bridge—say, Maidenhead.

“In 1875, the future of women was, I believe, much more certain than it appeared. It may be that I think this because it was always taken so much as a matter of course in the logic of my family circle. It had never been suggested to me in my life that I had not an equal birthright to knowledge with my brother. Hence it happened most naturally that I was an early candidate for the Senior Local Examinations, out of which came my acquaintance with Miss Emily Davies, and afterwards with Miss Buss. I remember seeing her among her girls in the intervals of the examination; and she, as I afterwards learned, was interested in the girl whose chief subject was mathematics. Our family birthright was specially in mathematics, and all of us, boys and girls, grew up to cultivate that soil. I dwell on this fact here because it was as a woman who could teach mathematics that Miss Buss first sent for me. She believed that young girls should be taught by women, and she wanted to build up mathematical studies.

176“Presently a time came when I resolved, not to do a little teaching, but to throw my whole life into the work of education. Especially I wanted to teach girls mathematics. I thought that women’s lives would be happier and sounder if they had, as a matter of course, their fair share of the sterner intellectual discipline that had been such a joy to me. My father was a born teacher and an educational enthusiast. Moreover, to his scientific habit of mind it was as natural to regard teaching as a scientific art as to believe that girls should be fully educated. My feeling about these things was, in the first instance, the continuation of his. Then I was early a disciple, in matters philosophical, of the great Mill; and my first definite idea of a science of education, comparable in practical efficiency to the science of medicine, was built up out of a suggestion in the pages of his great work on Logic. I had just begun to be a student of psychology, and was so profoundly interested in problems of life and character that I was strongly drawn to turn my taste for scribbling, then very strong, to writing novels of a serious workmanlike kind. However, I was resolved that they must be first-rate novels, and I had doubts—wise doubts—that I could count on myself for such. But in education the work was sure to be good world-building work, however humble, if honestly done, and my interest in psychology could take practical shape in it. So I resolved to leave the pen for leisure moments, to take to blackboard and chalk instead, and thus to work out real results in thought and character—that is, if I could get the chance. And presently the best of all chances was given. An old pupil of the Camden Street School had been a student with me at Bedford College, and from her I obtained an introduction—a great boon, I thought it—to the founder and head of the North London Collegiate School.

“So I first saw Miss Buss in her own home, in the drawing-room of Myra Lodge, gracious, dignified, strong of head, tender of heart, as I ever knew her afterwards. She gave me an hour or more of her precious time, and explained to me clearly and graphically, as she was wont, the then present position of affairs as regarded the education of girls and the prospects of teaching as a professional career. Great was her zeal at all times, and her ambition in the cause of the women who work for their living, and so she laid stress on the new opportunities for making a position and an ample income that the educational demand was opening up to women, a profession with a few great prizes and many smaller ones having taken the place of the resident governess’ 177limited outlook. So she told me about the new Endowed Schools for Girls, and, among other things, that the great prize (financially speaking) would be the projected St. Paul’s School for Girls, the mistress of which would have a salary rising to as much as £2000 a year. Alas! that was a project which is only a project still, and the North London Collegiate School remains, as it was twenty years ago, at the high-water mark of remuneration for women’s labour. It was her view that, for the dignity and efficiency of teaching in this branch and for the good of women-workers generally, there should be many more prizes at least as great, and at all times she was much concerned that reasonably good salaries should be secured, especially for that class of assistant teachers who remain at work for the best part of their lives.

“But the central interest of that first conversation turned, to my mind, upon the expression of her views about the importance of teachers being trained for their work. It seemed to her so obvious that she who undertakes to carry out an undertaking so delicate and difficult as that of education should first make as careful a study as might be of the end to be attained and the means of attaining it, and should be trained as an artist is trained in the technique and spirit of his work. She was, above all things, practical, and her feeling in the matter was of practical origin, while my feeling, which coincided with it, sprang rather from a theoretical root. She was an artist’s daughter, and her method of judgment was largely the artistic method. She saw her problems whole, as concrete ends to be gained, and she found her way to them intuitively as she went on. She always saw truth in the concrete, and was so little doctrinaire herself that the doctrinaire character in other people did not rouse her antipathy and interfere with her perception of merit in their theories. It is the pure theorists who are most impatient of each other.

“The great artist zealous for his work, and intent on its perfection, is eager to learn all he can about it—to assimilate the wisdom of other workers in his field, to think about it in all its bearings, to learn to see, to practise, to be criticized, to be trained. This, I take it, was the attitude of mind in which Frances Mary Buss some forty years ago, conceived the idea of training for teachers as a universal need from which secondary teachers should not be exempt. Before the school in Kentish Town was opened, Mrs. Buss went to the Home and Colonial Training College and put herself through the training of the elementary teacher. One may well wonder whether any other woman in the same rank about to 178open a small private school ever dreamed of such a preparation as needful. But to these two, mother and daughter, it seemed simply essential, and when the school developed, and they had a staff of teachers, they thought it necessary not to be content with the training they themselves could give in the school ways, but applied to have a department for secondary teachers opened at the Home and Colonial College. This was done solely for the benefit of ‘Miss Buss’ teachers’ at first, though others came in time. Greatest among those others was Miss Clough.

“This little history of the idea of training, as Miss Buss held it first, is characteristic of her attitude on the subject throughout. She thought it essential, and at the same time so great and special a work, that it ought to be undertaken by those who made a special business of it, and not by the heads of schools whose special business was something else. She felt the need of it as an artist in her work, she sought to have it supplied in the spirit of the administrator by the foundation of institutions for it.

“To these lectures Miss Buss sent all the young teachers whom she could induce to go. Very often, I suppose, they resisted the light, as, in the pride of youth and eagerness to be doing, they resist the light of the training college still. In eagerness and self-confidence I was probably equal to most, but I had been theorizing about education on my own account, and was very sensible of the darkness. So when she told me about the College of Preceptors and Mr. Payne, she showed me what I was looking for, and I eagerly accepted the suggestion of attending the lectures. She told me afterwards how much she was pleased with my ready interest. It was indeed at this point that our minds first met. And perhaps this was partly why, when she brought me into the hall to let me out herself, she first held out her hand and then looking at me in the way her girls so well know, she suddenly took me in her arms and kissed me. But chiefly it was an impulse of motherly tenderness that prompted her. I was young and had suffered.

“This was in January, before school opened. In February, she sent for me to come twice a week and teach mathematics. The school was in 202, Camden Road, then, and there were 300 girls. Miss Armstead and Miss Lyndon were in the first class I ever taught. They were great friends, but had agreed not to sit together, so that they might escape the temptation of talking. I had never been inside a school before, and had no idea what girls other than I had been were like intellectually. I might well feel modest 179about the need of training in the technique of managing a class, the one thing in which the College of Preceptors’ lectures did not specially help me. But the girls were very good, and did not ‘try it on,’ with one exception, and she used to be sorry, and apologize of her own accord. I remember being wonderfully impressed by the high tone of feeling that prevailed, the absence of petty jealousies, the trustworthiness of the girls, and the confidence placed in them about marks and conduct. Over all the head-mistress was as a second conscience. Nothing mean, petty, or egotistic could survive contact with the fresh bracing air of her personality. I was very new and very inexperienced in school ways; she had her little anxieties about me, and used to look after my classes a good deal at first. All young teachers know what this feels like, but it was a great help none the less, and we must all win our spurs before we get them. Except those who remained of the original staff, I was the only teacher there who had not been a pupil.

“Soon I came for all my time, and taught German. But the demand for mathematics grew as the teaching developed, and before long all my teaching time was absorbed in this stricter intellectual discipline of the North London girl. It is perhaps a digression, but I may mention that the first genius I found was Sara Annie Burstall. With Miss Buss as a head-mistress, and such a pupil as that, and many more to love and help, I began to be happy in those days.

“As the school and its head became more and more to me, I grew into that position in relation to both which enables me to give some account of my dear friend’s mind and practice, first as shown in the inner work of the North London Collegiate School during these later years, and secondly in relation to the various phases of the educational movement outside.

“In the head-mistress’ room at the North London Collegiate School there was in leisure moments always likely to be going on discussion of many things other than the immediate business of education in the school. It was indeed a noteworthy fact that so much concentration of work and interest in such an effort as the creation of this great school out of the void that preceded it, should have gone with so wide an extension of interest in other fields, and these not educational fields only. One delightful bond of sympathy between Miss Buss and me was our common interest in public affairs, and the harmony of our political opinions. How eagerly she looked for news in stirring times! how heartily she threw herself 180into the questions of the day! and how she enjoyed a good political discussion! She was thoroughly imbued with the fine civic spirit, and for my part I believe this contact of her mind with the issues of life on a larger—even though rougher—scale, was invaluable for the health of the school-life, as a corrective to the narrow scholastic spirit which so easily banishes the fresh air from schools, and possibly sometimes even from universities. It is not the particular opinions that tell, it is the contact with genuine public spirit in any shape.

“But it is with the educational interests and the outer circles of her life in connection with them that we have here to do. In all her work she had her eye always on the larger issues. The North London Collegiate School was never out of perspective in the mental picture of the educational field. No other educational leader has worked with more devotion to one special institution, but though it was the centre of her practical world it never usurped the place of centre in her vision. And for this very reason it was at the central source of many educational movements, because she was in it, and was also at the very heart of them.

“The first place among these may be given to the education of women in all its phases. But concern for the cultivation and spread of educational principles and the professional training of the teacher lay scarcely less near her heart. During the later years, this occupied even more of her attention, and she never had ‘women only’ in her mind. Then it was in the very nature of her that she should be greatly exercised by the politico-educational problems before they rose at all above the horizon of the regular scholastic mind. I wonder how many schoolmasters in England came to look into the question of Welsh Intermediate Education, its creation and organization, when the earliest Welsh Education Bills came before the House of Commons. But we used to discuss these things in those days over our midday meal, and debate on the analogy, or want of analogy, with the English problem. The last piece of public work she did was to answer the queries sent to educationalists by the Royal Commission on Secondary Education. She was too ill then to give evidence before the Commission, too ill to have answered these queries if the ideas of them had been new to her, but she had known her mind about them clearly in the days of her strength, and it was easy to go over familiar ground once more. It was so familiar to her that it was familiar ground to me too; I knew her opinions as well as I knew my own (or better, in so far as they were more determinate).”



“To know her is a liberal education.”

“I have no liking for large boarding-schools. My ideal of education is large, well-conducted day schools, with all the life and discipline that numbers alone can give; not to speak of the greater cheapness and efficiency of the teaching. Our young women are narrowed sadly by the want of sympathy, large experience, and right self-estimation which only mixing with numbers gives. But no large dormitories nor dining-rooms. Let the education be as broad and vivacious as may be, and to a certain extent, public; at all events, public-spirited. But, if boarders must attend, let them live in families, under proper regulations, of course, and attend as day scholars. Large boarding-schools give a sort of hardness, which I, for one, greatly dislike. They destroy the home-feelings, but I need not dwell on these points; my feelings are most in favour of day schools and good homes.

“We have two boarding-houses. One, my own, is of very recent establishment—the girls go to and from school with me or an assistant-governess. Their education is just the same as that of all the day pupils.

“It is right, however, to say that this plan of letting the mistress receive boarders is not allowed at the Cheltenham Ladies’ College, a large and successful institution, the only (almost) efficient proprietary girls’ school in this country. I can see possible evils, but as I have only just begun, am not fully aware of them yet. I should not recommend, I think, the mistress of a great day school being allowed to begin with a boarding-house. Her strength and whole working time ought to go to the school.”

182So wrote Miss Buss in 1868. She had taken Myra Lodge because she could not otherwise have carried out her great scheme. She afterwards came to see more clearly still that the head of a great school ought to have her time at home free from all claims. Had she been able to act on this from the first, her own life might have been prolonged. But once having taken up the life at Myra she could never bring herself to let the girls go. Even when, at last, she handed the boarding-house over to Miss Edwards, she moved to the house adjoining, and had a door left so that she could have girls to see her or go to see them. She said: “I do not think I could now be quite happy without girls round me.”

In accordance with her own theories, she tried to make Myra Lodge as home-like as possible. And the welfare of her girls—physical, mental, and spiritual—was her first care. To hygiene she had paid special attention, and her arrangements for ventilation, bathing, and food, left nothing to be desired. She always laid great stress on the need of sufficient food, varied in every possible way; and every one within her range must have heard her expatiate on the folly, or wickedness, for she gave it the harder term, which induces so many young women to do fatal injury to their health by insufficient and unsuitable food. Of the laziness and indifference which makes so many of them content with odd cups of tea, in place of regular and proper meals, she could not speak too strongly. The Myra girls were fed well, and with sufficient luxuries to make “home hampers” unnecessary.

On all sides we hear of the special care exercised in the matter of proper food during examinations, or in any time of extra strain. If it was known that the interval during an examination was too brief to allow 183of a full meal, hot soup, or hot milk, with bread and butter, or scone, would be ready at the right time.

Here is a word to the point from Miss Buss, to whom I had mentioned some child’s complaint against a teacher—

“If there is anything wrong, I will see to it, but, meantime, I cannot but think there is as much real foundation for this charge against Miss S. as there is in the one against me, which has taken much of my time this week to trace out, viz. that a girl now in school, was removed from my house, and placed under medical treatment, because of the insufficiency of food.

“It is quite impossible to trust in children’s judgments until all sides of the question are looked into. Their views are as immature as their bodies.

“Another child speaks in the same way of another teacher, and I am constantly having to bring in floods of light on a girl.”

Suitable clothing was also a matter of careful consideration. Miss Buss would have liked a school-uniform, which she would have made graceful as well as rational; but, except in the gymnasium, she never attained this desire, and had to content herself with at school advising, and at Myra compelling, the most needful reforms. She waged war against unsuitable ornamentation, lace and jewellery in the morning being always attacked.

She would, if possible, have given each girl a separate room, well supplied with the “place for everything,” in which everything would be expected to be in its place. Failing this, she so divided the rooms by curtains that each inmate secured one portion that was specially her own.

At one time it was rather a fashion to talk of the “over-work” at Miss Buss’ schools. Doubtless there were cases of girls too delicate for the life of a public school, who ought to have been kept at home; and there were also cases—very numerous—in which girls 184who were expected to do school-work and at the same time meet every home claim, as well as enjoy social distractions and dissipations, certainly did suffer. But at Myra Lodge, where life was duly regulated, and the time for study fixed to suit each girl, no one suffered who was at all fit to be away from her mother’s care, whilst many were very markedly improved in health during their stay there.

Having myself suffered, for life, from the ignorance of the laws of health common to even the most intellectually advanced teachers of my youth, I was interested in this question, and often talked it over with Miss Buss. Looking back on my own experience, and contrasting it with what I knew of the arrangements at Myra, I could never bring myself to believe in the sufferings of girls enjoying the benefit of Miss Buss’ thorough knowledge of hygiene.

She fully endorsed the opinion expressed by Miss Beale, in an able paper read before the Social Science Congress, in 1874, where she says—

“I remember the outcry raised when it was proposed to open the local examinations to girls. The deed was done, and none of the evils predicted have fallen on us. I frequently challenge our visitors to find a delicate-looking girl among our students. I do not say we have none, but there are so few that it is not easy to find them. I kept, one year, a record of all the causes of absence, and found that in the higher classes pupils were absent from illness on an average about three days in a year, in the lower from five to six, and in the lowest rather more.”

And from America comes the satisfactory report of “headaches diminishing and hysteria disappearing under the strengthening influences on body and mind of this higher education.”

There is no doubt that the pupils of the North London Collegiate Schools had enough to do. But I 185know of at least two cases where the complaint was quite the other way. Miss Buss says in one note—

“Fancy Mr. ——! He also wrote last year objecting to his daughter’s home-work being limited. I know that most of the Myra girls finish at seven o’clock, do no lessons before nine in the morning, do none at all on Friday evening, and always put every bit of school-work by on Saturday at twelve. This leaves many an hour free. But parents are the weakest of mortals. Unmarried ‘Arnies’ have will, and carry out what they know to be right!”

In another case a pupil was withdrawn from Myra Lodge because she was not allowed to work beyond the allotted time. Miss Buss writes in reference to this—

“The child thinks she will be allowed, I suppose, to study whatever hours she likes, if she goes elsewhere. I will not allow more than a certain amount. What’s not done then, must be left undone. The consequence is, mental as well as bodily activity, in time.”

Later, she again refers to the same subject: “Patty Watson has left me. It is a good lesson of failure, and helps, let us hope, to repress that ‘bladder of elation’ of which you speak.” And, once again, apropos to some other difficulty: “The enclosed note is very satisfactory. J—— D—— was not allowed to go her own way, like Patty, who, by the way, is a clever girl, conscientious and industrious.”

It may be open to question, perhaps, whether Miss Buss might not have relaxed her rules in favour of this very remarkable girl. But it is also probable that the very perception of the dangers attending overstrain may have made her resolute against it. Miss Ellen Martha Watson had gone to Myra Lodge, mainly that she might pursue study in higher mathematics, and consequently might have expected to count as more than an ordinary schoolgirl. She was, however, of highly sensitive organization, and no one who knows the care 186exercised over each girl individually can doubt that Miss Buss was aware of all that concerned her, and judged accordingly.

Miss Watson gained first-class honours in the Senior Cambridge Local Examination while at Myra Lodge. Afterwards, at the University College Intermediate, she took the highest prize for applied mathematics and mechanics, as well as a £50 Scholarship. Professor Clifford said on this occasion that the proficiency of Miss Watson would have been very rare in a man, but he had been utterly unprepared to find it in a woman, adding that, “a few more students like Miss Watson would raise University College to a status far surpassing that of institutions twenty times as rich and two hundred times longer in existence.”

A case so exceptional must stand alone; but still the question does suggest itself, if, throughout her whole school-life, Miss Watson had been subject to the restrictions judged wholesome by one so wise as Miss Buss, might she not possibly have been spared to work out her splendid destiny, instead of being so early laid to rest in her lonely South African grave?

It is impossible to form any rules which will include the few brilliant exceptions who are a law to themselves; such, for example, as Miss Cobbe, one out of a thousand, in being endowed with a physique to match her mental vigour, who gives an instance of the kind of work possible to herself. She is contrasting the old and the new order of things, or impulse versus system.

“I can make no sort of pretensions to have acquired, even in my best days, anything like the instruction which the young students of Girton and Newnham and Lady Margaret Hall are so fortunate as to possess; and much I envy their opportunities for acquiring accurate scholarship. But I know not whether the method they follow can, on the whole, convey as much of the pure 187delight of learning as did my solitary early studies. When the summer morning sun rose over the trees and shone into my bedroom, finding me still over my books from the evening before, and when I then sauntered out to take a sleep on one of the garden-seats in the shrubbery, the sense of having learnt something, or cleared up some hitherto doubted point, or added a store of fresh ideas to my mental riches, was of purest satisfaction.”

Without coming to any final decision on the best mode of dealing with genius, to which study after this fashion may be natural, we may at least safely conclude that even in the most elastic of school boarding-houses, a girl so expansive could scarcely find herself happy, or be a source of happiness to the anxious mistress.

But how happy even a very clever girl might be at Myra we may see from some memories of a stay of six months, spent in preparation for Girton, where the writer, Mrs. Lewis, distinguished herself—

“I remember, as if it was yesterday, my first meeting with Miss Buss, now twenty-three years ago.... At the earliest possible moment she had interviewed me privately, and I was deeply impressed by her earnest manner, by the thoroughness with which she went into my former education, and the evident intention of doing her utmost for me. This I soon knew was characteristic of her. We were, to her, individuals—each one the object of genuine interest and real anxiety....

“She talked to me more as an adult than as a schoolgirl, and I remember with gratitude that she invited me to walk with her to church, or on any occasion when she happened to go out with us, interesting me in some social, educational, or philanthropic subject, talking with such fluency and such a fund of illustration and of racy anecdote that I was sorry when our destination was reached. Looking back, I realize what an unusually generous thing it was for all these privileges to be poured out on a raw schoolgirl, and, moreover, on a stranger. That eager, ungrudging, self-spending for others was, to my mind, the most noticeable feature of dear Miss Buss’ daily life.

“In about two months Miss Buss began actively arranging for me to see as much of London as possible during my stay with her. 188With all the varied work and cares of her busy days upon her, she would constantly ask, ‘Had I seen this place of interest? had I heard that famous preacher? had I ever been so-and-so?’ And every spare afternoon or evening was used to the best advantage, either personally, or with any lady she could find free to chaperone me. She often told me that a teacher ought to have as wide and varied an experience as possible, and all the general information she could get, and should never think that book-learning alone would fit her for her post. Foreign travel, social intercourse, general reading, all were insisted on as indispensable. And she would give me bits of the history of her own struggles....

“The happiness of all her pupils was to her an object of real solicitude. I remember my delighted surprise on one of the first Saturdays at her cheery invitation, ‘Now, girls, which of you would like to come to see Maccabe, at St. George’s Hall, with me this afternoon?’ I knew the week had been a very busy one, and I wondered how Miss Buss could find the energy to be so gay, and to laugh with the merriest of us at the jokes.

“Looking back, I realize that I cannot over-estimate the value of such association with that noble, earnest, sympathetic nature. And, certainly, I have never seen any one who so equally combined earnestness of purpose, untiring industry, indomitable perseverance, and shrewd common sense, with the perfection of womanly sympathy.”

Of the intellectually stimulating effect of this association another pupil speaks strongly—

“Although it is quite impossible for any of us to measure the great influence for good that Miss Buss has exerted over the whole of our lives, in one particular I have specially felt the great help her training has been to me personally, viz. the choice of books and taste for good literature.

“I can remember, quite early in my school-life, the cutting satire with which Miss Buss would criticize some of the modern trash in the shape of literature, so that one felt (and that feeling I have never lost) one simply could not read such books. On the other hand, she always recommended plenty of good wholesome books to help us in the choice of our reading; while, in pointing out passages, or in explaining allusions, she roused interest, and cultivated the taste for all that is good and pure in literature.

“She applied to books, as to other things, her favourite motto: ‘Aim high, and you will strike high!’

189“She seemed, in all her teaching, to agree with the poet Lowell, that ‘not failure, but low aim, is crime!’

“A favourite subject for debate was the Ethics of Waste, showing that everything wantonly destroyed is a loss to the community. The wickedness of waste of food seems to have excited much attention, and set the girls, among themselves, to discuss and make calculations concerning it which served—as they were meant to do—to give safe and harmless topics for talk.

“Akin to this was the effort to make girls look into the future, and not to trust to what might happen, but to prepare by present action in acquiring habits of decision and industry. She thought that every woman should be independent, and deprecated dependence on brothers or other friends, so long as effort was possible on their own part.”

Another “Myra girl” seizes on a point very characteristic, when she says—

“To schoolgirl and friend alike, Miss Buss was entirely natural. She was too great to think of, or to need, exterior aids to respect. Forgetful of herself, she was ever ready to share her thoughts or memories with all who could be interested or helped by them.

“In her conversation she avoided all personal gossip. Never did an unkind or hasty word about a fellow-being cross her lips, and often in the school addresses, she told us that by chatter the ninth commandment was easily broken, and that topics about acquaintances begun in innocence, ended only in harm and hurt to others.”

There is a story of her that, one day, after a visitor had gone, Miss Buss seemed very uncomfortable, and finally said, “I feel as if I had been stung all over; that talk has left so many stings behind it!” It was her rule, carefully kept, never to repeat unpleasant things; but she never forgot to mention any kind word said about others.

Miss Fawcett speaks of Miss Buss’ sympathy with young life and its needs, and she adds—

“The girls were a great happiness to Miss Buss. If one or other did give trouble through temper—and this did worry her—we 190would sometimes comfort each other by reflecting how many of them did nothing of the kind, but went on tranquilly and happily. ‘Yes,’ she would say, ‘it is the old story; the ninety and nine are apt to be forgotten in the struggle with the one!’ And she would cheer up.”

She was very indulgent to her girls at the half-term holidays. Besides sending them for pleasant excursions, she liked them to be able to go into the kitchen to make toffee, and to cook some little dainty (Northcountry cakes or specialities), or anything else they might like.

The girls’ birthdays were always marked by some special treat. On one occasion we hear that the younger children were, for once, to be allowed to make “just as much noise as they liked.” The results were so “tremendous” that a friendly policeman looked in to see if his services were required, greatly relieved to find that the shrieks which had attracted him were only shrieks of laughter.

But, whilst delighting in real fun, the line was drawn, hard and fast, at slang, roughness, and, above all, at practical jokes. No girl who had once had a talk with her on this last topic was likely to make a second attempt within reach of Miss Buss. The doings of certain “smart” sets found small tolerance in her eyes. Nor did the “Dodo” and “Yellow Aster” literature fare better, though for most of it she would have probably given the prescription that worked so well in one particular case of morbid excitement—“closed doors and open windows,” or silence and fresh air.

Miss Buss had remarked, as a fact of her experience, that if girls of great natural vanity could not take the lead in any other way, they developed something sensational in health. Hearing of a case of this sort in one of the boarding-houses, she requested to be sent 191for if another fainting fit should come on. This was done. On arriving, she found the girls’ room full of anxious bystanders, who were at once dismissed, only excepting the head of the house, who was asked to close the door and open all the windows.

Miss Buss then demanded a large jug of “the very coldest water that could be procured,” adding, in distinct tones, “There is no sort of danger in this kind of attack, and the most certain cure is a sudden dash of very cold water in the face.”

In telling me this story, she added, with one of her most genial smiles—

“I saw that the child had her best frock on, and I wanted to give her time.”

Before the water came, the patient was able to gasp out, “Ah, I feel better now, thank you!”

“That is right, my child. I am glad you feel better. And now remember, in future, that you need never alarm either yourself or any one else. If you feel a little faintness coming on, just retire to your own room, without saying anything about it. Shut your door, open all the windows, and lie down quietly. You will soon find yourself well again.”

There was no recurrence of the attack.

With weakness of will Miss Buss could by nature have little sympathy. But she was stern only when she knew that a will might be roused to greater effort, which, if let alone, could only grow more and more feeble. With merely morbid and self-centred natures she had still less affinity, and for these the prescription, “Do your next duty first!” would be very strongly enforced.

Coldness or extreme reserve of manner was always a trial to Miss Buss, as to all persons of a naturally demonstrative temperament. It was true that she herself 192sometimes exercised a repressive influence, but this was only when she was very much run down or worried. Usually, she drew people out by her frank kindness. One of her very favourite stories for her girls was Mrs. Gatty’s charming kitten story, “Purr when you are pleased!” She liked every one to show feelings of pleasure or kindness, and in this she set them a bright example.

Miss Fawcett recalls, among many things bearing on the same point, a remark made to her by Miss Buss, as they passed two new girls—both of whom are since known to fame—“It is always a refreshment of spirit to me to look at those two happy sisters!” Natures of this kind were a real help in her times of depression or discouragement, though, doubtless, none of the girls ever dreamt that one so strong could need help. Other teachers will understand from experience this joy of whole-hearted and sympathetic obedience from their pupils. And it is easy to measure what this must have been to Miss Buss in those later days, when she was no longer the energetic young teacher, sweeping every one along with her in a rapture of devotion, but, instead, had to carry, in addition to her own inevitable burdens, all the cares of her wide public work.

It may be a direct result of public-school life, assimilating the modern girl to her schoolboy brother, but certainly it is to be observed that the High-school girl rarely seems to have that power of expressing her feelings which made her mother or grandmother so much easier in all social relations. It is more than probable that, in thus growing like the typical “schoolboy,” she may in reality feel more, and not less, from this very habit of repression. But the fact remains that she is more difficult of approach than the girl of other days.

193With special cases quite individual in their nature, Miss Buss was rarely known to fail. As one of her staff observes—

“the way in which she managed difficult and obstinate pupils was marvellous. She would spend hours with them, and never thought the time wasted if at last she made the slightest impression. Often, when this did not appear on the surface, it was shown weeks, months, or even years after, by some little note or message.”

In thanking a young friend for some proof of affection there is a pathetic little appeal—

“You young people can form no idea—till your time comes—of how much pain a little indifference can inflict, especially when both the old and the young have warm hearts. My life needs close love from some one—I have given a large amount of mine to some one—and when he not only responds, but initiates loving remarks or caresses, he fills the old person’s heart with warmth, brightness, and love.”

On some few occasions, when more than usually overdone, I have heard Miss Buss admit with a weary sigh that she found the girls of the last decade of her work so much less easy to influence than those of the first; since, even when they were inwardly touched, they seemed unable to show it after the old fashion.

Autres temps, autres mœurs.” But yet, making all due allowance, if these “difficult” girls could have seen this friend after one of the encounters so terrible to her, and have realized how spent and heart-sick she was, they must have taken less pride in their defiance or hardness. She cared for them so deeply that it was real anguish of soul to her to think of the future sorrows inevitable for tempers undisciplined and wills unsubdued.

With this question of the influence on manners of the public school comes what does seem a real objection to the new development—an objection most 194strongly felt by those who look farthest back. With her invariable point and terseness, Miss Cobbe thus puts this matter in a nutshell—

“William of Wykeham’s motto: ‘Manners makyth Manne,’ was understood to hold good emphatically concerning the making of Woman. The abrupt-speaking, courtesy-neglecting, slouching, slangy young damsel, who may now perhaps carry off the glories of a University degree, would then have seemed still needing to be taught the very rudiments of feminine knowledge. When I recall the type of perfect womanly gentleness and high breeding which then and there was formed, it seems to me as if, in comparison, modern manners are all rough and brusque. We have graceful women in abundance still, but the peculiar, old-fashioned suavity, the tact which made every one in a company happy and at ease—most of all, the humblest individual present—and which at the same time, effectually prevented the most audacious from transgressing les bienséances by a hair; of that suavity and tact we seem to have lost the tradition.”

But Miss Buss had always faith enough in the future to regard the modern roughness as merely a transitional stage, and as the outcome, in the first place, of the higher standard of morals which places fact before seeming. The perfect outward grace of the courtly days did not always imply corresponding grace within. When these first days of reaction shall pass, and a really wide and high culture shall have become general, we may expect the development of a new gracefulness which shall be the genuine outcome of a truly gracious spirit.

“For manners are not idle, but the fruit
Of loyal nature, and of noble mind.”

In the very early days at Myra, the rules were few and simple, and the girls were trusted to do the right for love of it. Miss Buss believed in the force of a strong public opinion which should put all wrong-doing in its true light as hurtful to the community; and she considered it the chief advantage of a large public 195school that a strong feeling for the right should prevail, and, by its very force, put down all that was base or ignoble.

It was a grief to her to make new rules, and I can recall her sorrow, on several occasions, when it became necessary to add to those already existing—in every case as the result of some act on the part of a selfish minority, who thus imposed additional burdens on the obedient majority.

Miss Fawcett, who had long experience at Myra, and Miss Edwards, who followed her there, speak very strongly about the thoughtful care which in all cases aimed at preventing possible dangers. Girls whose influence might be hurtful to each other were placed in rooms remote; and the sitting-rooms were made attractive, and thus kept the pupils to some extent under constant supervision.

In Miss Buss’ letters during the holidays there are many proofs of this thoughtfulness. She writes to Miss Fawcett—

“Of these two I know nothing—morally, I mean. But A. ought to be kept if possible from B., and also from C. and D.; the former cannot manage her, and the latter gives in, perhaps, to her. Would it do for her to take F.’s bed, in G.’s room? It requires consideration.”

This consideration reached all round. Another long letter goes into arrangements for Miss Fawcett’s own relief from some of the care, each detail being worked out with the utmost exactness.

Or again—

“Can you invite X. to visit you on the half-term holiday, or, if possible, from Friday or Saturday before? I fear she may be asked to two places where I do not wish her to go just now. She is not easy to manage, and her companions are of great importance; 196and yet it is difficult for me to decline invitations when the reason cannot be explained.

“If you do not much mind, I will not send the three girls on Sunday until six o’clock, when they will be in time for service, unless it is raining.

“But I give up an hour or rather more to the girls on Sunday afternoons, and have been obliged, since that difficulty last year, to refuse to let them out on Sundays, except at the half-term. If by any chance a girl goes out in the morning, I expect her back to tea. They can go out on Saturday afternoons occasionally.”

Here is a note after the great explosion in Regent’s Park, on October 2nd, 1874—

“I hope nothing worse than broken glass has happened at your house in consequence of the terrible shock this morning. Thirteen of my windows are shattered, but I am too thankful for the preservation of the young inmates of my house to mind anything.

“My first thought was that the stack of chimneys had blown down, and, in falling, had crushed the roof in on the beds of Mary and Ethel P—— and Edith A——. The noise seemed to come from that quarter. In an instant I was upstairs, to ascertain if they were safe.

“I find myself even now shaking from the shock to the nervous system. My girls behaved admirably. They were all quiet.”

From the early days to the latest Miss Buss gave short addresses weekly on some moral text, choosing frequently some recent story of great deed or high thought, and making it interesting as she brought it to bear on the daily life of the girls. As one of the staff remarks—

“The high moral tone of the school was materially helped by these weekly addresses. Four forms met her in the Lecture Hall, and teachers and pupils listened to her wise counsel. One of her favourite texts was the life of Dorothy Wordsworth, as she earnestly pleaded with the girls, above all things, to aim at being true women, and not to let their school-work in any way interfere with their home duties, never forgetting that they must bring either sunshine or cloud into the home-life.”

197Here is a little sketch of the Sunday talks at Myra—

“I love to picture that drawing-room, Miss Buss to the left of the fire, her lamp on the table at her right, and the girls grouped around her at the fire, often some at her feet.... I never heard any one read as she did, and especially on those Sundays! Every word told. And then she would pause, and send some truth home by an illustration from her own experience.... After the holidays, she was generally full of some new thought: Mrs. Norton’s ‘Lady of La Garaye’ was brought after a happy holiday at Dinan.... She spent hours in the preparation of the Myra and school addresses, a testimony to the stress she laid on their importance.”

There are some pretty little glimpses of the inner life at Myra, given by a pupil who spent there a somewhat prolonged school-life, in which she came into very close relation to the beloved teacher—

“My earliest recollection of Miss Buss was when I went in for the entrance exam.; in a state of great trepidation, I accompanied her along the corridor to take off my things, and I think she saw my poor fingers shaking, for she suddenly took me in her warm embrace, and said, ‘Do your best, my dear child, and you must leave the rest,’ and then, looking me in the face, with another kiss, she said, ‘I think we are going to be friends.’ And the radiant smile that accompanied the kiss won my heart and banished my fears.

“I had been at Myra Lodge only a few weeks when, one of the girls having acted contrary to regulations, a warm discussion on her conduct took place in the playroom downstairs, some defending and some disapproving of her conduct. We were quite unaware that in the heat of discussion our voices were loud enough to be heard upstairs; it was a point on which I felt strongly, and I expressed myself somewhat emphatically for a new-comer. The next day Miss Buss sent for me, said she knew of the incident, and ‘you said so-and-so, my child; I am delighted to think you feel in that way, you were on the right side, and remember, dear, I shall always expect to find you on the right side.’ How often that belief in my being ‘on the right side’ helped me to make the struggle for the right only I can tell!”

198The same writer gives a glimpse of the brightest side of the relation between the head and her Myra girls—

“Miss Buss would often come round and see we were quite comfortable in our beds, and give us a maternal ‘tuck-up.’ One morning at breakfast she came behind my chair, and, turning my chin up with her hand to look in my face, said with laughing voice and eye—

“‘Well, did I cheat you last night?’

“A vision of a figure in red dressing-gown tucking me up and kissing me sprang into my mind, and I said—

“‘Oh, I remember; I thought it was mother.’

“And, whispering to me, she said, as she kissed me, ‘I thought so, dear; you gave me such a hug, you sent me so happy to bed!’”

And this, again, from another old pupil, is equally attractive—

“Never shall I forget her kindness when confined to my room at Myra by illness. It was the bright spot in my day when Miss Buss appeared in the evening to tuck me up in bed, and wish me good night. More than once she was on her way to some dinner or meeting, and wore a blue moiré, which I thought singularly becoming. Her smile, peculiarly sweet, piquant, and gracious, lighted up my long, dull hours, and lingers with me still.

“There was something so large and unfluctuating about her that one felt one could trust her with and through everything.”

An apparently harmless bit of nonsense brought about another episode which deeply impressed the girl who tells it—

“Miss Buss was in her little room. In her kindest way she held out her hand to me and said—

“‘Dear child, I want to talk to you; did you write that?’ producing the book.

“‘Oh yes,’ I laughed, ‘just to tease Louie!’

“I shall never forget the way in which she drew me to her, put my head on her shoulder, and then talked to me. She pointed out that the offence in itself was not a serious one, but that the jesting with a subject so serious as Love was one that no girl should 199indulge in; and then followed the most beautiful little picture of what true earthly love might be, that makes me glow to think of now, and she urged me never to trifle with the subject in any form, reserving all my ‘best’ for the one who was to give me ‘what is God’s best gift on earth, dear, the love of a good man, such as the love your father and mother have, and such as I hope He may give you.’ How glad I am to think she knew I have received that gift!”

It must indeed have been a joy to this happy young wife to be able often to brighten the later days of the solitary worker, whom she mourns now with tender and grateful remembrance in words that find far echoes—

“You know my deep affection, I may truly say veneration, for the dear one, and I feel as if one of my very nearest had gone. I look on it as one of the greatest privileges of my life to have lived in such close contact with her for so many years. Dear, dear Miss Buss, what an inspiration she has been, and what a responsibility rests with us to carry out what she has always taught us as the ideal of life! Her influence in the world is untold; and I am sure many are the lives she has influenced in critical times when the thought of what she would do, or would wish, has turned the scale in the right direction.”




“The vocation of a teacher is an awful one. You cannot do her real good; she will do others unspeakable harm if she is not aware of its awfulness. Merely to supply her with necessaries, merely to assist her in procuring them for herself—though that is far better, because in so doing you awaken energy of character, reflection, providence—is not fitting her for her work; you may confirm her in the notion that the training an immortal spirit may be just as lawfully undertaken in a case of emergency as that of selling ribbons? How can you give a woman self-respect, how can you win for her the respect of others, in whom such a notion, or any modification of it dwells? Your business is, by all means, to dispossess 201her of it; to make her feel the greatness of her work, and yet show her that it can be honestly performed.”—F. D. Maurice, Lecture on opening Queen’s College.

It is always of interest to compare dreams with deeds, the ideal with the actual. And this we are enabled to do with regard to Miss Buss’ educational ideals, since we have first her own words at different stages in her work, before any change was made, as well as during the time of transition; and afterwards, from a keen observer, we have a summary of results, and see how the dream had become fact, how the aim was attained.

There is very little of Miss Buss’ writing to be found in print. But we have one letter written, in 1868, to a lady in Otago, and published in a colonial paper, which gives us her ideas and her aims for future work just before the great change.

“North London Collegiate School for Ladies,
“12, Camden Street,
“Nov. 13, 1868.

Dear Madam,

“I have read with much pleasure your interesting account of the progress of education in your colony. You will soon leave the old country behind if you go so rapidly. There is much to be done before it can be said that England has a great national system of education....

“Lord Lyttelton has taken a deep interest in education, and has especially devoted himself to the consideration of the question in relation to girls. If you have not seen it, I recommend to your notice the Report of the Schools Inquiry Commission presented to the Imperial Parliament at the beginning of this year. It forms the first of a series of twenty-one Blue books, all of which are interesting for all who care for middle-class education. The chapter on the education of girls was, I believe, written by Lord Lyttelton.

“The school of which I am head-mistress was opened eighteen years ago, under the immediate patronage of the local clergy. The girls’ school followed almost immediately the opening of a boys’ 202school, which has numbered about four hundred for some years past. Both schools have from the first been entirely self-supporting. The girls have, however, outgrown their accommodation in two good-sized houses, but will, I trust, in time be located in a suitable building. The schools have always been conducted on what is here called the ‘conscience clause’; that is, the parents have the right of omitting the Church of England Catechism or any part of the religious teaching they object to. Even Jewesses[9] have received their whole education in the school.

“The routine of English has been considerably improved by the extension to girls’ schools of the Cambridge Local Examinations. It is impossible, I think, to overrate the good already done in girls’ schools by these examinations. A definite standard is given, there is no undue publicity, but schools are able to measure their teaching by the opinions of unknown and, therefore, impartial examiners.

“I cannot, of course, judge of the wants of a new colony, but my experience goes to show that it is better to include in the routine of study all the necessary branches, and I think a second language is one. It is almost impossible to teach English well unless another language is studied with it, and that other language should be Latin, or French, or German. Of course I do not say that this should be taught in the elementary stages, but I should not allow parents to have the power of stopping the teaching on the ground of extra expense.

“We teach French, really, I think, allowing no option. Latin also in the higher classes, with little or no option, except in the case of delicate girls.

“After my many years of work, if I were now to found a school for what might be called the middle section (and, indeed, the upper section also) of the middle-class, I should include all that I have mentioned, viz. English thoroughly, with Elementary Science in courses such as I have alluded to, French, Latin, bold outline 203drawing, careful part singing, plain needlework, and thorough arithmetic, with geometry and algebra in the higher classes. I would rigidly and entirely omit all arrangements for teaching instrumental music, which I believe to be the bane of girls’ schools, in the time wasted and the expense entailed. I have omitted, I see, harmony, by which I mean the laws of musical construction, an interesting, and, in an educational point of view, a most useful subject for mental training. Instrumental music—the piano chiefly—might fairly be left to a private teacher, as might dancing also. In Germany, I think, instrumental music is never taught in the Tochter Schule, but is always left to private teaching.

“No school ought to omit physical training—that is, Calisthenics, or something equivalent. This we have of late enforced among the elder girls. Our system, an American idea, called Musical Gymnastics, is excellent. Easy, graceful, and not too fatiguing, gently calling every part of the body into play by bright spirited music, which cultivates rhythm of movement, it has become popular, and has wonderfully improved the figure and carriage of the girls. Our exercises last from twenty minutes to half an hour almost daily—as much as we can manage, always four days out of five.”

9.  A letter from an old Jewish pupil, in the Jewish Chronicle, is full of deepest regret for her loss, giving many instances of special kindnesses received by the writer. “She was so strictly just that she gave every consideration to the first Jewish pupil who wished to participate in the honours not then open to Jews, acknowledging to that same pupil in after years that she gave the consideration in justice only, for, if anything, she was slightly prejudiced against a race she had only read about and not known.”

Miss Buss then goes on to explain fully her ideal of what the education of girls should be, giving her preference for “large day schools, with all the life and discipline that numbers only can give; not to speak of the greater efficiency and cheapness of the teaching.” She thinks that “our young women are narrowed sadly by want of the sympathy, large experience, and right self-estimation which only mixing with numbers gives.” She sees that the head of the school should be a woman, “left free to work the school, on certain conditions, without a committee of management.” The buildings, of course, “should be vested in a body of trustees, of which some should be women.”

It has sometimes been urged as a reproach that Miss Buss employed women-teachers in preference to men. That she employed women wherever it was 204possible is certain, because she considered teaching a legitimate occupation for women, and set herself to fit them for the work. That women could teach, she knew from her own experience. That they should teach better in the future than they had ever done in the past was one of her steady aims, and one that she attained.

Here is a strong expression of her feeling when she first read the report of the Edinburgh Merchants’ Company’s Schools, in 1872—

“The report is interesting, but I absolutely burn with indignation (does not my atrocious handwriting bear witness to it?) at the bare notion of men teachers in the upper girls’ schools. It is shameful, costly (because some poor drudge of a woman must accept starvation pay, in order to maintain decorum by being present at every master’s lesson), and it is degrading to women’s education. How can girls value it, when they see that no amount of it will make a woman fit to teach them, except as infants.

“Don’t be frightened, I feel well and even amiable, though I am in a great hurry, and my hand aches.”

Her own deliberate opinion on this matter is expressed in the letter to her colonial correspondent—

“Although I advocate certain teaching being given by men to the elder girls, it does not seem desirable that the head of a girls’ school should be a man. There are many things in the training of a young woman which cannot be enforced by a man, or even by a woman whose position does not carry the weight of authority. Women, also, teach young and ignorant children better than men, their patience and sympathy being greater. On the other hand, it is highly desirable, when girls are beyond the drudgery of school-work, that their minds should be touched by men. A certain fibre seems to be given by this means. At present women’s ignorance prevents them from giving the highest kind of teaching, but a brighter day is dawning for them I trust.”

All through her career, Miss Buss arranged for good lectures from men, as well as from women, and the 205regular religious instruction was always given by a clergyman. In early days there were courses of lectures by Dr. Hodgson and Mr. Payne. There were lectures on literature from French and German professors, in their own tongues. At one time the girls would be entranced by glimpses of the starry heavens from Mr. Proctor; at another, they were ready, en masse, to follow Captain Wiggins through the perils of the Arctic seas, to Siberia. In brief, these extra lectures included every possible subject that could tend to culture, in history, travels, art, or social matters.

How Miss Bass advanced in educational theory is shown in extracts from her letters in 1872, just after the private school had been made public, and while the work of organization was still going on—

“When we are once fairly started, matters will go on more easily. The anxiety over money will go, for instance. After next year, the public meeting will go, I hope. Then I may devote myself to the inside of the school.

“I want to train up girl-students in science; I want to teach music grandly—thoroughly in classes—making each girl understand what she plays, as well as if she were reading some passage of poetry, teaching her to find out the musician’s thought; his mode of expressing it; other ways of expression of the same thought, viz. words. The grammar of music should be known to every musician.

“Of course, only some girls would fully benefit by this teaching, but all who were taught would get some good. In this last point Miss Maclean, now Mrs. G. Fraser, will help. Indeed, she will carry out my idea thoroughly.[10] We must have a room with four pianos to begin with, and increase to six, or eight, if necessary.

206“In science Mr. Aveling will help, and Miss Eliza Orme; but as soon as we can get some of our girls quite ready our assistant science teachers must come from them.

“Ah, ah, how I wish we could get a fine building for the Camden School; we do want a lecture hall and gymnasium so much.

“If ever we have a little money, I should like the old furniture in Camden Street to be turned to account in a still lower school—at a shilling a week. We might work out this plan and have two schools—not reckoning an evening one—in a room thus used.

“Then I want to (perhaps) turn No. 202, Camden Road, into a Day Training College for Teachers. When we have left the house, we might give up the large room behind, and so diminish the rent.

“Of this Training or Normal College Miss Chessar could be superintendent, without giving up her whole time. The house would enable us to train at least a hundred students at a time, and they must pay for their training; as much, certainly, as the school fees would amount to.

“Our Training College should not receive ignorant girls. None should join who could not pass our examination at entrance.

“Our students should learn the history of great teachers, their methods, etc., should learn how to teach and what to teach; how to develop the mental, moral, and physical capacities of their pupils (by moral I mean also spiritual). We would affiliate to our College the National Schools, the School Boards of the neighbourhood, and our own girls’ schools, so that every student in training should have the opportunity of seeing actual schools in work.

“I have not mentioned this last to any one but Mr. Payne, for several reasons, one being that I am ambitious for the cause of education and especially for the mixture of sexes; if the College of Preceptors would take up the idea, it might be better left to them. Our board might then rent to them our present house. If the Preceptors won’t do it, then I would urge our board to try the question.

“Our chairman thinks this professional aspect of teaching ridiculous. I remained silent while he was speaking, as I am gradually growing into the idea that teaching is one of the noblest 207professions, not second even to medicine—one does with the body, the other with the immortal soul!

“But one point will be to carry first the half-time lower school; no doubt the Brewers will warm to this, if I can persuade them. This school might positively be built on their estate, near Camden Street. The Danish model, I mean!”

10.  Mrs. Fraser died within a year or so of her marriage in 1873, and Miss Buss writes: “One sad cloud has overshadowed us—the death of my dear old pupil and recent fellow-worker, Emma Maclean (Mrs. Fraser).... As I write, my eyes fill with tears at the thought of that fair young life thus early cut down.... You know how she stood at my side in all the recent musical changes, but you cannot know what a wonderful teacher she was. She inspired her pupils, and her power was so great that no difficulty in managing them ever occurred. I have now to find a successor to her; replace her I cannot.” A Musical Scholarship was founded in memory of Mrs. Fraser.

The following letter, written by Miss Buss, appeared in the autumn of 1872:—

To the Editor of the ‘Times.’

Sir,—Having had the opportunity recently of becoming acquainted with the system pursued in the Primary Schools of Sweden and Denmark, it has occurred to me that we may learn something from our Scandinavian neighbours with regard to the very important question: hours of attendance.

“One great difficulty we have to face is so to arrange the hours of school that the children shall be able to attend school and yet find time for work.

“Throughout Denmark education is compulsory, the parents being liable to fine and imprisonment for neglecting to send their children to school; but the difficulty of combining school attendance with freedom for work is met by the simple plan of holding school twice a day for different sets of children. Five hours being the required school attendance, one set of children attend from 8 o’clock to 1, with an interval for recreation at 11, and another set from 1 to 6 o’clock, also with a short interval.

“The parents are free to choose between the morning and afternoon school, according to the work the children have to do. In the first case, the children can work after 1 o’clock; in the second, until that hour.

“This plan has also another advantage—it enables 2000 children to be taught in a school-house built and fitted for 1000, and this without in the least interfering with evening teaching. This is an important economical question.

“One superintendent is sufficient for both schools, as he is not expected to teach more than 18 hours a week. He has a staff of assistants, some of whom are visiting teachers only, for special subjects, such as gymnastics, singing, etc. Elementary teachers are compelled to teach 36 hours a week, and may, if they wish, 208earn extra payment by extra teaching to the extent of 42 hours. The time-tables of the schools are so arranged that three sets of teachers can thoroughly manage four schools.

“Would not the adoption of some such plan, modified to suit local cases, clear away some of our difficulties? A maximum attendance of four hours daily, from 8.30 to 12.30, and from 1 to 5 o’clock, would, perhaps, be better suited to London, with one day’s holiday in a fortnight.

“The system appears to work well in Denmark, and to produce the desired results. The children attend school 30 hours a week. A diminution of the school-hours would still secure 24 hours a week for each school; but questions of detail must, of course, depend on local conditions. I merely wish to call attention to the possible solution of one, at least, of our difficulties.

A Practical Teacher.

This last dream never came true. But the advance in the elementary schools met all need of this kind. The higher Board Schools form now the connecting-link with the Camden School.

It may be of interest here to show how Miss Buss carried out her thought about the Camden School, now housed as nobly as she could have desired. From Miss Elford, the first head-mistress of the Camden School, as well as from her successor, there are touching notices of their relations with the founder of their school—

“Miss Buss had long felt the need of such a school, and for her to feel the need was for her to leave nothing undone until the need was supplied. It was as far back as the summer of 1868, when Miss Buss intimated to me—an old pupil—that in all probability a school would be founded in connection with her school, the fees of which would be four guineas a year. And would I like to be its head-mistress! The lowness of the fees rather alarmed me; but without hesitation, in full confidence of the success that must attend any scheme she took up, I said yes!

“Foresight and forethought were two of Miss Buss’ many and great qualifications. I have frequently heard old girls say, ‘If Miss Buss told me to do a thing of which I could not quite see the advisability, I should do it, knowing that she could see the 209necessity for it, and the good that would result from it, for she never makes a mistake.’

“The Camden School for Girls, however, was not started until January, 1871, in the old school-houses, Nos. 12 and 14, Camden Street, which had been until that time occupied by the North London Collegiate School. It began with the head-mistress and Miss Buss as superintendent, and was opened with 45 pupils on the first day, January 16, 1871; 78 entered during the first term, and the first year closed with 192 pupils.

“Miss Buss, deeply interested in its success, watched carefully its progress, and entered fully into the whole working of the school. In the early days, the curriculum of work was entirely under her supervision. She had the power of making others capable of carrying out her suggestions, and of making them realize their own ability. The teaching was precisely on the same lines as those for girls of the same age in the North London Collegiate. The visits of Miss Buss to the school were frequent, sometimes she came alone, sometimes with visitors; but Thursday afternoons, for several years, were specially set apart for work with us. She would visit every class, and, for the first year or two, knew most of the girls, encouraging some, stimulating others. All were so glad of her kind word. Her dress was pulled timidly by a little child to obtain the desired smile.

“Thursday thus became the red-letter day of the week. No question ever arose but she might be depended on for the wisest solution of the difficulty.

“The need for the school soon spoke for itself, for at the end of the second year, 1872, there were 331 pupils. And in January, 1873, as many as fifty were unable to be admitted. Girls from all parts of London, north, south, east, and west, were anxiously waiting to come in; for at this time there existed no Polytechnic day schools, nor middle schools for girls. The enthusiasm to enter was so great that one case may be mentioned of a little girl and her mother, who hearing that there were so many new ones applying, got up at six o’clock in the morning to catch the first train from Acton ‘to be in time.’ Alas! there was no vacancy.

“In 1871, seven pupils passed the College of Preceptors’ Examination in the lowest class. In 1872, seven passed the Junior Cambridge Local, and 17 the College of Preceptors’. This would be but little now, but Miss Buss said, let them feel they can do something, or, as she so often said, ‘Aim high, and you will strike high.’

210“The numbers increased so rapidly, now being 390, that a third house, No. 18, Camden Street, was taken and adapted, and no other change was made until May, 1878, when the school moved to the new buildings in the Prince of Wales Road, Kentish Town, of which the foundation-stone was laid by Miss Buss. The numbers had reached 420, with generally 90 or 100 waiting admission.”

The present head-mistress of the Camden School, Miss Lawford, is also good enough to give some details of more recent date—

“My recollections of Miss Buss begin with my school-days, and with the very earliest of them. It was to the North London Collegiate School for ‘Ladies,’ as it was then called, that I was sent, after a very short experience of school-life elsewhere.

“But when the time came to take up work as head of the Camden School, how greatly was my responsibility lightened by the sound advice and help which she gave me. I remember one case of more than usual difficulty which caused me considerable anxiety, and in which a false step might have given me and the school an unpleasant notoriety. I took the matter to her, she seized the point at once, was quite clear as to the action to be taken, and the whole affair ended happily. The clearness of her intellect and the facility with which she grasped a situation were salient traits in her character.

“The tie which connects her with the Camden School as its founder is one which we are proud to remember. She took the keenest interest in all its work, and in all her visits (she) always had a word for any girls who had distinguished themselves, or who were connected in any way with old friends and pupils of her own. We always looked for her on red-letter days such as Prize Day and Founder’s Day. On one of these latter she gave us a lecture on Lady Jane Grey which we specially valued. On these occasions so many friends wanted her at the North London Collegiate School that it was not often she could spare more time than to go round the gymnasium and the schoolrooms, and to speak a few gratifying words to the girls. She often invited the upper part of the school to lectures at the North London Collegiate School; one much enjoyed by them, ‘A Trip to Sunshine in December,’ gave an account of a Christmas holiday spent in the Riviera. She remembered us in other substantial ways. The splendid 211photograph of the Colosseum which decorates one of our rooms was brought by her from Italy. The lending library was partly started by a sum given by her for the purpose. The building of the gymnasium and the introduction of trained teachers for physical exercise was her initiative.

“What one feels more especially about Miss Buss is her utter sincerity. Whether she was helping you in a difficulty or promoting some great educational movement you felt she did it without thought of self. There was no touch of the little mind about her, no thought of adding to her own prestige. She spent her life in the cause of education with loyalty and single-hearted devotion. It was the happy lot of some of us to be associated with her in her work. We have indeed lost a friend whose greatness of mind and purpose ever stimulated us. We can only be thankful for the privilege which has been ours, and seek to carry out the high aims which she set before us.”

We know now—a quarter of a century after—what has been achieved by this great worker whose life remains as an inspiration for the times to come. What she aspired to may be best given in her own self-estimate in those early days.

I had sent her an account of a great spiritual work done by Mary Lyon, a distinguished American teacher, and received in acknowledgment the following note:—

“July, 1871.

Dear Miss Ridley,

“I have read Mary Lyon’s ‘Training School.’ In the past I have often had visions of such, or similar work, but as life has grown out upon me I have seen these higher hopes and aspirations fade a good deal. Still, I recognize many blessings and some usefulness in my life. It has not been a wasted or misused one. One must do what one can, and leave the issue to Him who guides all things right.

“Yours affectionately,

Frances M. Buss.”

From this modest self-appraisement I turn now to the thick volumes—six of them, almost all in her own 212handwriting—notes of the addresses she gave in school and at Myra, embracing every topic—moral and religious—that touches a girl’s life.[11] How they affected the girls who heard them letter after letter tells; and we, not so favoured, may imagine what they must have been, given in that clear impressive voice, as the results of most careful thought, and brightened by anecdote and illustration, gathered in these note-books, from everyday life and from past history. What is most striking in these notes is not merely an observation which let nothing slip, but the wise selection of a varied culture and extensive reading amounting to high scholarship. And as we remember that this work was all done amid the pressure of daily teaching, through all the long struggle of the establishment of the new schools, and then amidst the whirl of public life, we scarcely can tell where lies the greatest wonder—in the work itself, or in the humility which could include it all in those simple words: “but one must do what one can!”

11.  A selection from these “Notes” is being prepared for the use of teachers by Miss Toplis, and will shortly be published by Messrs. Macmillan and Co.

It is easy, after going through these notes, to be sure of the secret of her great influence. It is teaching that goes straight to the point because it comes straight from the heart of the teacher, whose happy pupils had good reason to say, “What before may have been only words to us then became facts. She was not so much a teacher as an inspiration!”

How these earlier ideals stood the test of time we may read in a record given a quarter of a century later by the colleague who best knew her work of “Education as known in the North London Collegiate School for Girls.”




“No one who has been brought into contact with Miss Buss, no one who has even seen her portrait, can have failed to be struck by her transparent integrity, her absolute sincerity, her single-mindedness of purpose. However much one might differ from her on a question of policy, one felt certain that the judgment was never warped by personal bias, that it was never prompted by ambition or jealousy, or any vulgar motive.... As an organizer she was unrivalled.”—Journal of Education, January, 1895.

The summary of Miss Buss’ practical work, for which I am so deeply indebted to Mrs. Bryant, is best given in her own words, with merely an interpolation illustrating that law of order on which these schools are so firmly based.

Mrs. Bryant begins with an important reminder—

“Teachers are not inapt to forget that the most important factor in education is the personality of the learner. The next most important is the personality of the teacher. So far as others make our education for us, the mind of the educator is more important by far than his method. And this is the more true the greater the teacher.

“Of Frances Mary Buss this was specially true, so much was intuition and sympathy in the concrete inwoven with her thoughts on the educational ideal. The ideal of her action was an emanation of her nature 216as a whole, not a pure product of thought. She could have told many things about it, but she could not tell it all. Her vision was wide, but her wisdom was wider. Hence there never was any danger that her mind would harden into a net of secondary principles in the solution of any individual problem. Practical questions were always unique, each one in itself, to her; and, rapid as she was in action, she could give time to deliberation and careful thought.

“To understand, therefore, the ideal of education under which so much good work has been done, we need to understand, not a theory true once for all, but the type of mind that is creative of right ideas as occasion requires. Nor is a subtle delineation of character needed here. The leading features are well marked, and a brief sketch may give the clearest conception.

“Breadth and elasticity of imagination, indomitable energy of will, boundless faith, unwearied sympathy—these are the great facts of character which lie behind her work and mark its ideals. They are all very obvious facts, but the first named, in the nature of the case, though the rarest and most remarkable, is the easiest to miss in its full significance. One clear mark of it is the memory she has left with each of her friends, of being interested specially in that phase of thought and work which she shared with them. The effect of it on her educational work was that extraordinary catholicity of view which distinguished her, and through her has influenced in many ways the theory of the girls’ school, and the tone of the educational question in the days which follow her.

“One phase of this catholic way of looking at things was her insistence, always very emphatic, on the idea that school and the teacher have to do in some way or other with the whole of life. She would not allow it to 217be supposed that any condition of the well-being and good growth of her pupils was no concern of hers. I do not mean that she at all denied the function of the home in education. On the contrary, she attached the greatest weight to it, but she held that whether the home did its duty or not it was the business of the school to aim at supplying conditions essential for the development of the pupil on all sides—to hold itself responsible for failure even when fathers and mothers had neglected their part. When parents were wrong-headed, or negligent, or mistaken, then it seemed natural to her to set about educating them. Many mothers learned priceless lessons of wisdom from her in the pleasant audiences of her “Blue room” at school; and few, I think, were ungrateful for them. She was full of ready resource in cases of difficulty, and she ever held that the moral was much more essentially her business than the intellectual salvation. When there was trouble with a girl, she gave herself to its cure with the most absolute self-devotion, and one great remedy was to send for the mother, to take counsel with her, and to give her counsel. In all matters of behaviour, such as foolish talk and unladylike—or shall I not rather say unwomanly—conduct she was strict and vigilant. Such things never escaped her, and her manner of dealing with them individually has made an epoch in the life of many a girl, the transition from an irreverent to a reverent state of feeling for social relationships.

“We are of course all familiar with the view that education is threefold, that it concerns itself with moral, intellectual, and physical welfare. But there was a strength and elasticity in Miss Buss’ feeling about school education as all-embracing that marked it as more than the consequence of a view. Each girl was a clearly imagined whole to her, with whose deficiencies 218and needs she had the mother’s no less than the teacher’s sympathy. She was wonderfully patient, and sympathetic, too, with foolish mothers, of whom there are some. She had a kind word and thought for ‘fads,’ strenuously as she resisted them. Forty years—thirty years—ago, the ‘fads’ that had to be resisted were many indeed.

“So she taught us, her teachers, the duty of infinite pains, infinite hope in the training of character. She never gave a girl up as hopeless. If one way failed, then another must be found. She had great belief—a belief well justified by facts—in the salvation of character by way of the rousing of intellectual interests. It was curious to note how a naughty girl improved if she grew to like her lessons. Naughtiness is often unsteadiness of will, and intellectual discipline is a steadying influence. Irrationality, moreover, is the cause of much moral evil, and thoughtful study makes for rationality. It may be—I am much disposed to think it is—that intellectual training effects greater moral improvement in women than it does in men, because a woman’s faults of character, on an average, turn more on irrationality and lack of nerve control, while the man’s faults centre in his profounder self-absorption and slower sympathies.

“Character as the prime aim of education soon became the key-note of the North London practice. It fell in with this that great attention should be paid to punctuality, accuracy, order, method, and the cultivation of the clerkly business abilities generally. Nor should we forget that simple quality of respect for property, so despised of boys, on which the head-mistress laid much stress as essential for girls, and, indeed, a part of honesty. In very early days, girls spilt ink on their dresses, so ink ceased to be part of the regular school 219furniture, and is only given out when required, e.g. for examinations, by the mistress in charge of the form. It is part of the tradition of the place—a tradition that will now be a tender memory—that the giving out of the ink is a serious responsible act, the weight of which should never be thrown on a monitor or even a prefect. The spilling of the ink is an evil so great that its risk should be laid only on the shoulders of authority. But, seriously, this is symbolic of the leading idea that the duty of taking proper care of the furniture should be taught at school as well as at home.

“Nobody but a school-mistress—except, indeed, a schoolmaster—knows to what depths of disorder the youthful mind may descend in writing out its lessons. I remember how it astonished me when, even at the North London Collegiate School, the original sin of literary untidiness caused itself to be seen. Well, from the beginning, serious war was made upon irregularities and disorder of this kind, a whole system of school routine growing up in consequence, much of which has become general in girls’ schools.”

“Order, Heaven’s first law,” was certainly the first law of school-life. The place was duly provided, and everything had to be in its place, an arrangement greatly helped by the Swedish desks—one for each girl, of suitable size—which Miss Buss was the first to introduce into England.

Wherever Miss Buss’ influence reached, order reigned. Everything bore witness to her power of organization, and everything throughout the place, down to the work of the lowest servant, was arranged by the head who said of herself, “I spend my life in picking up pins!”

The highest illustration of this quality comes in the story of Lord Granville’s admiration of the perfect 220arrangements on the Prize Day when he was in the chair. He could not forget it, and spoke of it to Dr. Carpenter, in reference to the giving of Degrees at Burlington House. Dr. Carpenter wrote to Miss Buss to ask her secret, and in reply she went herself to Burlington House and discussed with him all the arrangements, which consequently went off in perfect order.

No girl in either school, who had been long enough to enter into the spirit of the place, will ever during the longest life be able to look with indifference on an ink-spot, or to suppress a feeling of lofty superiority, if she ever has occasion to pass through a boys’ school, and cast a glance at desks or floors there. And few will be able to read without a sympathetic smile or sigh a little narrative of one of their number showing what came of inadvertence on this point—

“One of the direst days in the whole of my school experience was the day I spilt the ink.

“The accident happened on a Friday, and, since the event, Black Friday has altered its position on the calendar, as far as I am concerned.

“The terrible meaning the words ‘spilt ink’ convey to the mind can only be understood by those who know how dearly Miss Buss cherished the bright appearance of our beautiful school, and how she strove to raise a similar feeling in us by occasionally comparing its appearance with that of other public schools (especially boys’), and by having every spot and stain forcibly eradicated as soon as incurred.

“This accident happened one Friday morning just before prayers, and was not confined to a single spot, but included the contents of a large well-inkstand provokingly full.

“Hurrying past the form-table on hearing the hall bell, a long protruding pen caught in a fold of my dress, the whole apparatus swung steadily round and fell on the floor with a hideous splash. There was only time to pick up the stand and pen, the ink, alas! was foolishly left to soak steadily into the stainless floor.

221“That morning our bright little service seemed interminably long, and several notices delayed the filing off of the classes as speedily as usual.

“I was the first to re-enter our room, in which Fraülein stood alone gazing at the catastrophe.

“I told her I was the culprit, and mumbled out something about ‘telling Miss Buss.’

“Her smile and quiet remark, ‘She vill not vant much telling,’ were hardly reassuring.

“Fraülein was quite right; Miss Buss did not want any telling, the evidence in black and white was quite sufficient. She never scolded me for the accident, but was vexed at my not having informed the housekeeper immediately, instead of allowing the ink to soak comfortably in for twenty minutes.

“After a little chat about ‘Presence of Mind,’ I was told to repair the mischief, and attempt to get the stain out.

“There was no German for me that morning. The time was occupied in scrubbing the floor with lemons. During the day several helped, even teachers kindly lending a hand, but all our efforts were futile, and the ink obstinately refused to move.

“Later on, oxalic acid came into play, Miss Buss personally superintending the performance, and being really anxious in case any of the poison should perchance cling to my fingers.

“All to no good! On Monday the room was to be used by the Cambridge examiners, and, as a last resource, the carpenter and his plane were imperatively summoned.

“So ended Black Friday!

“I had bought my experience in the ways of inkstands, a thorough knowledge of eradicating stains, and a life-long lesson to act more decisively, paying in return a bill, the items of which ran thus: the cost of lemons, oxalic acid, and the carpenter; lost marks, a signature in the defaulters’ book, and the most miserable day of my school experience.”

Mrs. Bryant continues—

“In the wholeness of the founders view of her work, not character and intellect only, but physical welfare no less belonged to the school aim. Always, in some form or another, she had this in mind. The most punctilious care was taken from the first as regards 222sanitary conditions and precautions for wet days. Shoes had always to be changed, and contrivances for keeping the rest of the clothing dry—by umbrellas, cloaks, and common sense—were part of the moral order of the place. In other words, it was treated as a breach of the regulations if a pupil came into school with her dress wet. The result was, and is, that the girls manage to keep astonishingly dry. Like other sources of evil, this one has, in the course of years, tended naturally to decrease, because girls are more sensibly dressed than they were twenty, ten, or even five years ago. It is an amusing symptom of the hygienic influence of the North London School that, in my quest for properly shaped shoes, I find it best to fall back on the neighbourhood of Camden Road.

“The idea of regular physical education was early expressed in the institution of calisthenic exercises for a quarter of an hour after the light lunch in the middle of the morning. The idea grew and became more systematic as opportunity made its development possible. When the new buildings were opened, a splendid gymnasium had been provided for the purpose. Every girl was to have a systematic course of physical training by means of two half-hour lessons in the week from a regularly trained teacher, besides the ordinary drill on the other three days. But there might be abnormal girls who required more or less a special treatment, and, reflecting on this fact, there arose in Miss Buss’ mind the idea that the physical education ought, as of course, to be under medical supervision. This implied that all the pupils should be medically inspected, and it goes without saying that, to her mind, the medical inspector should be a woman.

“For some years this post has been held by Miss Julia Cock, M.D., who has carried out a system of 223observation, and record sufficient for the purpose, but not extending to anything like medical attendance.

“The first and essential object was to determine what kind of physical exercise was required in each case. The normal girl, and the majority of those even with defects, would be sent to go through the usual course. For defects, special treatment by exercise would be ordered, and this given in the afternoon. Three afternoons in the week the gymnasium is occupied by these special gymnastic classes, and the record of physical improvement made is worthy perhaps of even more praise than the roll of examination honours won by the intellectually able. The girls who do best with much rest and little exercise are also found out and dealt with accordingly. The physical character of each is recorded in the medical book, and kept for reference.

“Defects of eyesight are also discovered in many cases, and the parents informed that there is need to consult an oculist. Other physical weaknesses, as they thus come to light, can be dealt with similarly if need be, and the knowledge of them is most valuable in dealing with the girls in their work. The experiment of medical inspection, as Miss Buss tried it in her school, has proved an immense benefit, and the idea lay very near her heart that all schools—especially all girls’ schools—should do likewise. It is one of my regrets that she never knew, she was too ill, that three memoranda on the subject were given in evidence to the Royal Commission on Secondary Education, one of the three being by our medical inspector, Miss Cock, founded on the experience of the North London Collegiate School.

“As regards intellectual education, it was characteristic of her that she had not the slightest tendency to attach more importance to her own than to other 224subjects. This was not simply—it was partly—the consequence of an all-round logical view; it went with her elasticity of imagination and extraordinary power of entering into and sympathizing with things outside her experience in the ordinary sense. This is the ideal Prime-Minister quality, and it was hers. She was not a musician, she did not know mathematics; but I suppose she has not left the impression more strongly on any two people of understanding their ideals and supporting them with enthusiasm and sympathy than upon Mr. John Farmer, of Balliol College, with reference to music, and upon myself in mathematics. And in itself it is a noteworthy fact that she struck from the very beginning on the idea that science should be an essential part of the school curriculum, and elaborated it to so high a pitch that her school was early described by others as par excellence ‘the science school.’ Her own scholarship was great in History and in French—genuine fine scholarship, with the unrivalled power of graphic description and interesting memory of events which make history-teaching and is so rare, and with delightful freshness and power in handling a language with a class. On this side of her work she was herself the perfect artist. For the study of science there had been little opportunity in her girlhood, but just what had been denied her was just what she most energetically supplied. I think she would have been great in science: her mind was scientific in its ways of work, and she had the practical constructive talent that, added to thinking power, makes the physicist. The concrete sciences would have attracted her intellectually more than the abstract.

“But in her ideal of education she came quite naturally and easily outside her own intellectual tastes and acquirements. So natural was this to her that she 225has doubtless left the impression on many of the younger generation that she was mainly a great administrator rather than also a great teacher with special tastes and powers of her own.

“Thus it was the more natural to her to realize instinctively, as she did consciously, the doctrine of the harmonious development of all the powers as the aim of the school education.

“Even the casual observer could not fail to have been struck by the ever-growing, ever-assimilating nature of her mind. In this respect she never grew older; never grew as middle-aged as many people are mentally at twenty-five. Like the Athenians, she was always ready to hear some new thing. She was ready to give any reasonable theorist a hearing, though not necessarily to erect new altars to his ideals. Whenever she heard of any idea that promised, she would, in later years, speak of it, and have it discussed at our teachers’ meeting. Then, if it seemed well, we would hear the propagandist in a lecture, and afterwards discuss the subject again. The sequel depended on the opinion formed, but most new ideas, special and general, came our way. The Harrow Music School, the Royal Drawing Society, and Miss Chreimann’s Calisthenics may be mentioned in particular as having received her recognition very early.

“Mr. Farmer writes as follows—


Dear Mrs. Bryant,

“It is very difficult for me to write that which I feel about the loss of Miss Buss.

“Miss Mary Gurney first introduced me to her.

“Soon after that she asked me to examine the music in the North London Collegiate School. I was afraid at first that she would not understand my point of view with respect to the study of music in high schools, But, instead of being misunderstood, 226she gave me her sympathy and help from the first in my endeavour to make music an earnest and educational part of school-work.

“Miss Buss was not a young head-mistress when I first knew her; but she was, like my greatest school-friend, Dr. Buller, Miss Mary Gurney, and the dear old Master of Balliol, fearless in her belief in all that was for the good of schools, and especially in the redemption of music from being a time-wasting, emotional accomplishment.

“Miss Buss allowed me to introduce the Harrow Music School standard text, the purpose of which was to do away with the mere swagger of certificate-giving, and to make it more a test of the general work of the school in music. She was always so glad to find that the majority of girls who did well in music were just those who were doing well in other school-work.

“I shall always remember her patience and kindness in her presence during the long examinations. She was never shocked at my hopes, mostly very wildly expressed, for the future of music in the education of girls.

“Music, above all studies, needs backing up with the advantage of a thoroughly good education. It has always been my endeavour to keep it from encroaching unfairly on the time and strength of the girls. Miss Buss understood this, and helped to make it understood.

“You have, my dear Mrs. Bryant, for so long been a witness to that which I have so clumsily described. Please forgive me.

“Yours very truly,

John Farmer.”

“To the same purpose is a letter from Dr. Ablett, head of the Royal Drawing Society—

“So many evidences have come to me of the great part Miss Buss has played in the development of education, and she gave such willing and helpful support to the work of this society that I, personally, unfeignedly mourn her loss.

“Our council will be sorry to lose one of its members who, by her world-wide reputation, added strength to, and won confidence for, it.

“Miss Chreimann also bears similar witness—

227“Miss Buss was amongst the first to introduce into her school the eclectic (and original) series of physical exercises which have been termed my ‘system,’ though my own feeling would always be—

‘For forms and systems let the fools contest:
Whate’er is best administered is best!’

My aim is to secure equal balance in all the working organs of the body, with permanence of function and steady gain in beauty and order, rather than to teach any particular set or sets of exercises.

“Miss Buss had early been impressed by the vastness of waste consequent on the physical disabilities of girls, and still more by the need of the grace that goes with well managed strength. It was for these ends that she urged me to give my time to the training of teachers, and the subsequent inspection of their work, rather than to the endeavour after a physical culture, which she agreed was necessary, but which was years in advance of the sentiment, alike of the parents and of the majority of educationalists.

“Miss Buss probably did more than any other public school-mistress for the knowledge and adaptation of physical training to the requirements of girls.”

In conclusion, Mrs. Bryant adds—

“It was with the same eagerness to learn and get help and light wherever it could be found that Miss Buss welcomed the institution of the University Examinations for schools and scholars. Her gratitude to the University of Cambridge for having been the first to come to the help of the girls was very beautiful and touching. It would have had to be a very good reason indeed that would make her substitute Oxford for Cambridge, and the loyalty of her affectionate preference for Girton over all other colleges was tender and very deep. She loved Cambridge as if it had been her own Alma Mater. It was the Alma Mater of so many of her girls in the early struggling days.

“I spoke of energy of will as one of her striking qualities, and her whole life illustrates this so well that 228it only remains to indicate its influence on the inner life of the school. She was not always quick to decide unless it was necessary, and then she decided instantly. Otherwise she deliberated before decision with great care, weighing all sides of the matter, as she would say. But once decided, she acted at once, and kept on acting till the thing was done. That was where she economized force, and in it lay the secret of much of her power and her tradition. Her own mind did not admit of pause between decision and act, and probably there was no quality in other people which tried her patience more than hesitancy after it was certain what ought to be done. How natural it is to some people is well known, but by effort and practice the tendency can of course be mitigated, if not cured. North-Londoners, from association with her, got into the way of resembling her to some extent in this respect. It became the habit of the place—may it long continue—to get under way with one’s piece of work the instant one knew what it was. I am very inferior to many of my colleagues in this respect, and only disguise the fact by economy of another kind, which perhaps goes naturally with a more slowly moving will; the economy, namely, of doing my piece of work so that it has not to be done again. But for simpler things there is no call for this economy, and the comfort is great of being surrounded by persons whose instinct it is to translate the idea into the action at once.

“Her energy was her most obvious quality in school. Everybody saw that, and each felt that she individually had to live up to it. Still obvious, but deeper, was her boundless faith in the possibility of achieving good ends. The choice of the school motto, ‘We work in hope,’ was characteristic. She pursued her ends without delay; she pursued them also with the confidence that in some 229way or other they would one day be gained. About her ends her will would be inflexible; about the means of accomplishing them her invention was elastic, and her mind open. And I suppose few persons in this world ever carried out their ends with so much or such well-deserved success. Her secret was to be uncompromising about essentials only.

“Her faith in the latent possibilities of character, even when most unpromising, amounted to a principle of educational action, which she wielded with marvellous effect, because its hold was even more strong on her heart than on her head. She seemed almost to believe—but this is an exaggeration—that any one could be made to do or become anything. She produced wonderful results in the way of training up efficient workers when others would have despaired; though sometimes she did it at immense cost to herself. She believed in every one, but she would let bad work pass with no one. She was at once the strictest of critics and the least despondent. Thus she made what she would of many, especially of those who had very much to do with her in the earlier years. Not that she was ignorant of their limitations either, but limitations did not trouble her. She had absolutely none of that restless critical spirit which requires that everybody should be made to order, all over again, and different. She took them as they were, loved them, and made the best of them in both senses.

“Every girl was good for something to her eye and in her heart. It was her business—our business—to find out how the most could be made of her, and to make it. And just in proportion as good in people was the reality she saw, so was their evil, for the most part, a transitory unreality. Young people at least are apt to be and do what you expect of them. She dwelt on 230the good, insisted on it to them, wrestled for it with them, established it in them, and straightway forgot the evil or remembered it only as a passing phase. And the sign of this large-hearted sympathy in an optimistic temperament is shown in the special devotion to Miss Buss of all the so-called naughty girls.

“It is needless to enlarge on her possession of the administrator’s gift of relying with generous trust upon her tried helpers. This, too, was in her a matter of the heart quite as much as of the head. She felt about them as one with her in a joint work of which in all its phases she spoke as ‘ours,’ not as ‘mine.’ It was pleasanter, more natural to her, to be the controlling centre of a plural will than to be a single will governing others with more or less allowance for their freedom. As regards the question of the relation of the head to her assistants, this might be described as the theory of her practice, elastic as all theories must be in a mind of truly practical genius. She believed thoroughly in the legal autocracy of the head as the best form of school government, but in her view of the autocrat’s standard for himself she expected him to exercise rule with due regard for ministers and parliaments.”



“L’Union fait la Force.”

Probably none of her public work gave Miss Buss more unqualified satisfaction than the Head-mistresses’ Association, of which the first germ seems to be contained in a passage from one of her Journal-letters of September, 1874, written from Bonaly Tower, Edinburgh—

“Miss Beale of Cheltenham called on me the day I was in London.... She and I think we must form an Association of Head-mistresses, and hold conferences occasionally, in order to know what we ought to assert and what surrender.

“Dr. Hodgson showed me, in the ‘Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table,’ a passage about the ‘membre à question,’ and the ‘membre à by-laws;’ the latter is called ‘un Empereur manqué,’ and is the member who awes the rest of a committee by his rigid adherence to by-laws.

“Just think of men discussing for hours the arrangements of girls’ boarding-houses—how the beds should stand, etc.!”

All who have been behind the scenes in the development of public schools for girls can read in between the lines here the various stages by which the Association of Head-mistresses came into being.

The question of the management of these new schools was naturally one of supreme interest to the 232women who had made such schools possible. When Miss Davies was asked by Lord Taunton, during her examination by the Commission, to mention any point of importance in connection with the education of women, she fixed on the point of the presence of women on the councils of girls’ schools, on equal terms with men, and not on any separate ladies’ committee. She was warmly supported by Miss Beale and Miss Buss in this view that, for the management of girls, women were essential. Miss Buss, in a letter written some time afterwards, but before the change in her own schools, sums up the whole question concisely—

“If your plans lead you to prefer a committee to a board of trustees, I advise you not to allow two committees—one of gentlemen for money matters, and one of ladies for internal arrangements. Two committees always clash, sooner or later. The mistress disagrees with the ladies’ committee, the gentlemen interfere, and the usual result is that the ladies resign in a body. I do not think any better plan can be devised than a single council of men and women, with certain well-defined duties to perform, but with no power of continual and daily interference with the mistress. In this opinion I am unbiassed by personal feeling, because, as this school is my own property, I have never had to work with a committee. But I hear on all sides of the difficulties which arise, and which are, apparently, to be prevented only by the plan I have suggested.”

Mrs. Grey, when examined on March 25, 1873, before the “Endowed Schools Committee,” gave her opinion in favour of women on the governing body of every school, on the ground that a ladies’ committee “was powerful only to object and interfere, but powerless to carry into effect any of their suggestions, however valuable these might be.”

It is evident that what is wanted is a consultative body—a sort of Privy Council—to advise and help in matters external, and in cases of special difficulty; 233whilst, in the internal affairs of the school, the head must be held responsible. It would follow that, to make a council really useful, there must be some principle of selection to secure the right persons, so that it should not be said in the future, as has been so often possible to say in the past, that “head-masters and mistresses are chosen with care, their degrees, experience, etc., all sifted, and then they are set to work under a governing body chosen haphazard, or anyhow!”

Most of the great schools owed their prosperity to the skill and character of some one man or woman, and, even after they had attained success, were still dependent on their head, who, instead of being allowed free play, was checked and thwarted by this haphazard council—the “expert” being under the control of the mere “amateur.”

In such cases, the “managing committee” is clearly not what is wanted. Here are weighty words from a head-mistress, who must take highest rank among the “experts”—

“No one knows how much of one’s health and energy is lost to the school by the anxieties of getting those who do not understand the complicated machinery not to interfere with things with which the head alone ought to deal.

“Governors have no idea of the worries head-mistresses have, when hysterical girls invent absurd stories; when parents and doctors attribute every illness, real or imaginary, to lessons; when teachers get wrong, or when they suddenly disappear, take head-mistress-ships elsewhere, and draw away their friends and pupils.

“Then, again, the governing body will blame for the inevitable, or a head will deal with ninety-nine intricate cases, and in the hundredth will make a mistake; they naturally know nothing of the former, but of the latter they hear, only to condemn.”

This is one very important side. The head clearly has very definite rights. But, there is also the other side, and the members of the council have also their 234rights. Even the “mere amateur” is not without rights, as a person who, in combining special interest in education, with wider and more varied experience than can be enjoyed by the professional educator, is therefore of use on the council in his power of seeing things from the outside, and thus bringing to bear on them a judgment not warped by mere professional bias. Even on the most haphazard council, the persons elected are at least supposed to have some power of help. These “amateurs” are consequently persons who are more used to lead than to follow, to take the active rather than the passive attitude, and to whom mere acquiescence is as uncongenial as it is unaccustomed. It is therefore easy to imagine such a council growing restive, even under the most competent leading, and asking, “Is it really our whole duty to sit here simply to register the decrees of the head-mistress?”

To strike the happy mean between tyranny and subjection is the duty alike of the governing body and of head-master or mistress. The governing body must not rule; nor, on the other hand, must its members be too passive, or acquiesce when they ought to oppose. If they are bound to follow competent leading, they are no less bound to dismiss the incompetent. The captain of a ship gives place to a duly accredited pilot, but he is none the less bound to judge whether the ship is making for the straight course or not. To give up his command into unskilful hands is, on the one side, as foolish as it would be to tie the pilot to the mast, and let the ship go down, whilst the crew dispute for the right to steer.

It is evident that, with the best intentions on both sides, great tact and forbearance are needed to prevent occasional friction. And we need not wonder that, as a matter of fact, there was on most governing 235bodies in those early days a considerable amount of friction.

Of this Miss Buss had, in her own experience, comparatively little; but what she had, arose entirely from this very point. She had arranged, when she gave up her private school, that it should be in the hands of a body of trustees, who would hold it for the public good, but who were not intended to interfere with her own development of the work which she had herself begun and carried on to success.

As the founder of the school, and as a life-member of a board on which the other members were elected for short periods, her position was unique. To this, also, must be added the fact that, for the first two years, the new schools were carried on by means of her own liberal donations and those of her personal friends. It was not to be expected that she could hold the same relation to her governing body as the ordinary head-mistress, who is appointed by them, and over whom they have the right of dismissal.

It was perhaps a little unfortunate that at the time of special difficulty, the chairmanship seemed to have become permanent in the appointment of a chairman, who, however fitted for the post, was yet only imperfectly acquainted with the early history of the school, and, therefore, not unnaturally gave undue weight to the help given by the Board, regarding the new scheme rather as an entirely fresh departure, than as what it actually was, merely the expansion of an existing organization, and still dependent on the skill to which it owed its rise. He had been accustomed to long-established foundations, where everything went by rule, and to committees where the word of the chairman was law. Miss Buss was used to supreme power over her own school, and she was, like most women of that 236day, unused to business routine. This was, moreover, one of the very first governing bodies on which women were elected on equal terms with men. Such an arrangement was too new as yet to go without hitch. It would follow, quite naturally, that men, out of mere force of habit, as well as in real kindness of heart, should adopt a paternal and authoritative attitude towards all women, even to those most competent to stand alone.

Miss Buss was by nature one of the least self-assertive of women. She had always been helped by some strong man, and had accepted all help with gratitude. First Mr. Laing, and then Dr. Hodgson (with her father and brothers, as a matter of course), had been recognized as friends and helpers.

But, at the same time, one of the most definite aims of her life had been to raise the status of the head-mistress to the same level as that of the head-master. For the sake of all teachers—not for her own sake—she deprecated the secondary place given to women who were doing the same work as men. She also thought the internal management of her school should be left to her, as it would have been to a head-master in her place, and for this she stood firm, even when, as a matter of mere feeling, she might have given way, for she was really one of the old-fashioned women who would personally endure anything for the sake of peace.

It is more than probable that she felt some things too strongly, and that she misunderstood others. In those days, most women suffered quite needlessly from sheer ignorance of business routine. They lacked the training and discipline which carry men unscathed through the roughness of public life. Two men meeting on a committee may oppose each other tooth and nail, 237but these men may afterwards go home and dine comfortably together, bearing no traces of the fray. At that date, two women, after a similar encounter, would have gone their separate ways, to weep over a solitary cup of tea, and when next they met would pass each other with the cut direct.

To a woman like Miss Buss, nothing of this sort would have been possible, for even if she had not had too much common sense, she had that most uncommon power of forgiveness which led to the saying, “If you really want to know how kind Miss Buss is you must do her some injury!”

Nevertheless, however evanescent her feeling might be, she did for the time feel her worries very intensely. It chanced that, as my way lay beyond Myra Lodge, I usually drove her home from the meetings, and she then relieved her pent-up feelings by rapid discussion of any vexed question from her own point of view. By the time our drive ended, she was, as a rule, quite ready for her ordinary meal, and we parted more often than not with a jest, for this process was merely a question of “blowing off the steam,” and I served as safety-valve. It was entirely a matter of temperament. Whilst some temperaments fail to perceive the existence of a grievance until it is formulated in words, others can throw off in words all the bitterness of even the worst grievances. Miss Buss belonged to the latter class, and, as I understood this thoroughly, I could forget her words as soon as spoken. Where such hasty utterances were taken seriously by persons of the opposite temperament, she was at times seriously misunderstood.

During the nine years of suspense between the changes of 1870 and the opening of the new buildings in 1879 there was much to try the most perfect patience. 238Here is a little note showing the kind of thing that used at first to cause a protest—

My very dear little Annie,

“I feel a little ashamed of my impatience to-day, but am happy to find that Miss Elford was in the same frame of mind. Lady X. talked quite wildly about this and that, and what ought or ought not to be. These ladies have not an idea beyond the parish school, where the lady of the manor is supreme, and dictates to the children what they shall wear, and what they shall not, how to do their hair, etc., etc. If it were not so pitiable in its ignorance I could find it in my heart to cry, or to run away and leave the board to manage its schools.

“How very thankful I am that you have always a soothing effect on me. My dear love to you,


This was probably one of many instances in which Miss Buss suffered from an imperfect knowledge on the part of the public. Endowments for girls’ schools were still so novel that the demand for money for the Camden School was, in some absurd way, associated with the Founder, as if she were herself a recipient, instead of being, as she was, one of the most generous of donors, giving herself and her means for the public good.

For example of the sort of trial involved in working with a committee to one so used as Miss Buss had been to direct, rapid and free action, we may take an experience in 1872, when the governing body, intent only on saving her trouble in the temporary absence of the Rev. A. J. Buss (Clerk to the Board), appointed a special Prize Day Committee. It had been decided that, to bring the work more clearly before the public, the Princess Louise should be asked to give the prizes in the Albert Hall. We give Miss Buss’ report from her Journal-letters—

239“June 22.

“I went yesterday to the Albert Hall and heard that it was let for the 19th.

“The secretary was very polite, however, and, finding he had to do with a princess, got the date altered to suit us. The fees will cost £30. The secretary says we ought to distribute bills through the exhibition, besides advertising, and let people in who choose to pay for entrance. This will require consideration on Monday.

“Mr. Roby will speak, and I mean to ask him to say what Miss Davies has done for education. On Saturday there is a conference of teachers in the rooms of the Society of Arts. We shall see plenty of people there, and can ask some one to speak. Dr. Lyon Playfair is to take the chair.

“For the day itself we must invite thousands. Every member of Parliament, every member of a city company, every clergyman and Nonconformist of note. Invite all the press, all known educationalists, etc., etc.

“Let us hope we shall have our own hall by next year, and then we shall not need to go away from home.”

“July 2.

“Mr. Forster can’t take the chair. Lord Derby declines, and now, at 2 p.m., comes a note to say the Princess Louise will not be able to attend!

“Dr. Storrar goes to-morrow morning to see Mr. Holzmann, and consult with him. We hope to get access to Princess Mary.

“If not where are we? Curiously enough, this sort of thing does not worry me—at least, not much.... Nothing but the necessity of working with other people would have made me allow the matter to be so delayed. June is our month, and always has been. However, I am quite cool about matters. The inevitable must be endured.”

“Myra Lodge, July 11, 8 a.m.

“The chairman sends Col. Airey’s note to say Princess Mary declines. I shall go at once to consult Mr. Elliott.”

“202, Camden Road, July 11, 11 a.m.

“Mr. Elliott is going to try the Duke of Edinburgh. I am to get rid of the Albert Hall, however, coûte que coûte.

“Everything is at a standstill. Never in my working life has there been such a complete fiasco.”

240“July 13.

“I must write later to answer your notes fully, but, at 8 o’clock this morning, I went to our vicar, Mr. Cutts, for a note to the bishop’s chaplain, whom I do not know. I then went to Mr. Elliott; returned to breakfast, and then dashed out with the fixed determination not to return until the Prize Day arrangements had been made.

“I drove in the storm to St. James’ Square (London House), Bishop not there, but at Fulham; drove to Fulham, sent in my note to the chaplain, who saw me at once, and asked me to go to the bishop. I said I wanted to ask a question, and would not disturb him if possible. So Mr. Gamier took in my message, ‘Would the bishop preside for even half an hour at our meeting—on any hour and any day in the next fortnight.’

“The bishop positively had not one hour available. He went through his list, but he would give me Monday, the 29th, at 3 o’clock. Of course I accepted, rushed away to St. James’ Hall—not to be had anyhow for two months—thence to Willis’ Rooms, which we can have.

“How much I regret allowing a committee to be formed! If Mr. Elliott, Mr. Danson, and I had been empowered to act, we should have had one of the Princesses. There would have been no delay by notes going first to the chairman and then having to be sent to me. If I had had the note of Princess Louise’s secretary at 8 a.m., by 10 I should have been at her house, and should certainly have got an introduction to Princess Mary. In this case, the memorial to the latter would have been in her hands by Saturday morning, instead of Tuesday! and would have been accompanied by a note from either Princess Louise or Lord Lorne.

“Don’t think me very egotistical, but don’t expect me to summon a committee for the Prize Day again.

“I shall quietly go my own way now, and do the things. That last committee took up two hours and twenty-five minutes of my time in the middle of the day, and for what? (I told you two hours, but made a mistake.)

“I forgot to say I went to the printer, ordered all the invitations, and expect them on Monday. But Willis’ Rooms, though handsome, are not large. With every card we will send out the slip about Princess Louise’s failure in her engagement.”

The meeting went off as well as these meetings always did. But next year the Princess Mary of Teck 241was secured without difficulty; as well as afterwards several other members of the Royal Family, including even the Prince and Princess of Wales.

It must have been at this period that an equally characteristic little story is told. Miss Buss, in the height of her vexation, sought comfort beside her sister and her boy. As she entered the room, she exclaimed, “This is what I have brought on myself, and for what?” with an impatient stamp of her foot. Baby Frank lifted his great eyes solemnly to his aunt, and, with a deliberate stamp of his baby foot, echoed, “And for vot?” on which, as she clasped him in her arms, all her indignation vanished in a shower of kisses.

But that she did not demand mere acquiescence from her friends is proved by many of her letters, one of which may be given, not only as showing her many-sidedness, but also as revealing the true humility which was the secret of her strength.

She had been long overstrained by anxiety and suspense, and had to some extent lost patience under the many demands on her. At one time, indeed, she even entertained serious thoughts of resigning her post unless things could be made easier for her by the assurance of greater freedom of action. On the occasion of this particular letter, the usual talk had failed, and I must have written that same evening still more strongly, urging either a more complete submission to the inevitable, or else some bold stroke for liberty. She thus responds—

“Late as it is, and in spite of a distressing headache, I must just write a few words to say how much I love and thank you for your note. The advice in it I will try to follow.

“Yet, dearest Annie, it tears me in pieces to have to be always asserting myself. But it seems to me to be impossible to go on without a certain amount of freedom of action.

242“Dearest Annie, I sobbed myself to sleep like a child, such a thing not having occurred for years. The Mystery of Pain!—if it were a clear duly to bear it, I would go through anything, but I cannot see the duty, and can feel the pain....

“You must take me as I am, dear Annie, with all my failings. If I am too impetuous, too energetic, too rash, these are all part of such virtues as I may possess, and, without the two first, the work that I have done would never have been done; and the last I do not think I am. Other feelings, of course, I have, unconscious and unknown to me. But take me as I am.

“I had a long and grave talk to Miss ——, who counsels fight, but not on any personal ground. She says, ‘Resign, if there is interference with the mistress’ liberty of action. That is a public question, and one of public interest.’

“She was so good and loving; she was so tender; and she is so wise and calm.

“She told me some of her own worries, and said that sometimes she quivered in every nerve at her own council meetings. People came in and asked for information, involving hours of work for no result; ignored all that had been done, and talked as if they alone had done everything and knew everything. She urged me to try and be impersonal, so to speak; to remember that these and similar difficulties would always occur where there are several people. She said that women were always accused of being too personal, and harm was done by giving a handle to such an assertion.

“Dearest Annie! I must try to follow your advice, and think of the work and not of myself. Please help me! Be a true friend, and don’t fear saying even unpleasant things to me if you think them deserved. I shall not quarrel.

“Worried and annoyed as I have been, I have never in my whole life been cut by, or had a quarrel with, even the most absurd parent! But you know I am to give in my resignation, if a public question, such as payment of teachers, hours of work etc., is raised.”

There were few head-mistresses who in those early days escaped some such trouble. Referring to one very well-known instance, in 1874, Miss Buss remarks—

“I see they are still in a state of fight at Milton Mount; there seems to have been a great storm at the annual meeting. I am so 243sorry for Miss Hadland, who is one of the best and bravest women I know. I feel that she has fought for a principle, and not in mere self-assertion. It is hard discipline to be thwarted at every turn when she has only a single eye for the children’s best education for this life and the next. Any worries that I have had in the past sink into insignificance compared with Miss Hadland’s.”

The recurrence of such difficulties rendered it desirable that the head-mistresses should take counsel together, and try to secure some firm and settled line of action which might lead to the avoidance of misunderstandings between themselves and their governing bodies.

There was already in existence a very useful “School-Mistresses’ Association,” of which the head-mistresses were all members. But, as including assistant-mistresses, private governesses, and even the “mere amateur,” these meetings were better adapted for the discussion of general educational questions than for the special difficulties of one branch of the profession.

Miss Buss had been one of the most active members of the School-Mistresses’ Association, which had its origin in a suggestion made by Miss Davies, to which reference is made in a letter, dated December, 1865, from Miss Buss to Miss Davies—

“I think your proposal about the meetings admirable. The first meeting with men, Mr. Fitch, or some one, in the chair; the rest modelled on the Kensington Society.[12] But where you will get 244your papers from, is the question! There is so little leisure in a teacher’s life.

“I think it would be useful and pleasant to meet the Assistant-Commissioners, and hear some of their experience. Such a meeting might be annual, and the others quarterly. I mean a mixed meeting of men and women for the annual, because, after the Commission ceases to sit, I suppose the Assistant-Commissioners will disappear.”

12.  The “Kensington Society,” to which reference is here made, is thus described by Miss Davies—

“The Kensington Society was not exactly an educational union, though it arose out of the agitation for the local examinations. I had, in working for that, made acquaintance, partly by correspondence, with a good many people of kindred interests. It seemed a pity that we should lose sight of each other when that particular bit of work was accomplished; so a little society was formed to meet and read papers from time to time. Mrs. Manning, the step-mother of Miss Adelaide Manning, was president, and as the meetings were often held at her house in Kensington, we took that name. Miss Buss was a member, but did not take an active part. This society lived, I think, for about three years.”

The School-Mistresses’ Association was finally started in April, 1867, with Miss Davies as honorary secretary. Miss Buss became president in the second year.

In an early report, reference is made to a suggestion from Miss Clough, which led to the first action having for its object co-operation among teachers. It was ascertained that—

“While practically school-mistresses were singularly isolated, some teachers having scarcely so much as a speaking acquaintance with any professional associate, such isolation was involuntary, and felt to be a great drawback to usefulness. It was agreed to meet together, at stated times, for the discussion of subjects specially interesting to teachers.”

A Library Committee, with Miss Gertrude King as secretary, undertook the formation of a Teachers’ Library, and of a Registry for Professors. With the exception of the attempt of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution, this seems to have been the first effort made by any educational body towards duly qualified and certified teaching.

The meeting mentioned in Miss Buss’ letter was held, early in 1866, at the house of Miss Garrett (Mrs. Garrett-Anderson), and was attended by several of the Assistant-Commissioners, and by other persons interested in the new movements. Matters relating to the Schools Inquiry—still in progress—were discussed, as well as the question of education in general.

245A valuable series of papers on general educational points, by able writers, was issued by the association, and various technical questions were fully discussed; but the larger movements, such as the Local Examinations, and the proposed Woman’s College at Hitchin, occupy a very prominent place in the report which dwells on what is the true basis of any useful association—

“Apart from any tangible results, it has been felt that the recognition of a common bond—the kindling of zeal and courage, by the contact of congenial minds—the cheering consciousness of sympathy in working together for a great end, amply justify the existence of such an association.”

The School-Mistresses’ Association continued its work until the increase of the new Endowed Schools made a division of its members into three distinct classes, head-mistresses, assistant-mistresses, and private governesses. The two first formed themselves into distinct associations, while the third was absorbed by the Teachers’ Guild, which also drew in the amateurs.

Having fostered and protected this threefold fruitage up to the period of ripening, the parent association then fell apart, its work being done.

The Teachers’ Guild was originated by Miss Buss, at a meeting held on February 7, 1883, at the North London Collegiate School for Girls. On May 16 it was formally inaugurated at a meeting of the School-Mistresses’ Association, and it was then taken up warmly by the Head-mistresses’ Association.

Of the rise of the Assistant-mistresses’ Association, Miss E. P. Hughes writes, referring to the help given by Miss Buss—

“In 1884, at a little meeting in my room at Newnham, it was decided to start the Assistant-mistresses’ Association, the initiative being left to Mrs. Corrie Grant, Miss Eves, and myself. I wrote to Miss Buss and to several other leaders in education. Miss 246Buss’ answer was the first we received, and I distinctly remember the impression it produced. She sympathized keenly with the desire for union, seeing at once the possible danger of antagonism to other associations, but also seeing the way to avoid this danger. Without her sympathy and advice I do not think the association would have been started just then.”[13]

13.  That Miss Buss’ interest did not relax is shown by the resolution passed by the Assistant-mistresses’ Association after the news of her death: “A great loss has fallen on the profession, a loss we should call irreparable did we not know that no devoted service dies, but lives and bears fruit in many wonderful and unexpected ways. A great worker has been called to her rest, and we who remain seem little as compared with her who is gone. As teachers we must all feel how much we have lost, while to some the loss is dearer and more personal.”

Miss Buss and Miss Beale may claim to have started the Head-mistresses’ Association, with the help of Miss H. M. Jones and a few others, who met at Myra Lodge in the Christmas vacation of 1873, to formulate its constitution.

In her memorial notice,[14] Miss Toplis tells us that the name of this new association was due to Miss Buss, as she says—

14.  Educational Review, January, 1895.

“How many of those who now hold the honourable position and title of head-mistress know that they owe this title to her? She had succeeded in convincing the authorities that in the new schools which were to come into existence a woman could be the actual head, and that there was no need to put her and her school under a man as director (which was the only idea that occurred to them); and then arose this question, what should the lady be called?—superintendent, lady-principal, director? ‘A thought flashed into my mind,’ she used to say, ‘if head-master, why not head-mistress, as the exact equivalent?’ And, much to my surprise, the suggestion was immediately accepted.”

Miss Buss became president of the association, retaining the office till the end, when her place was taken by Miss Beale; the duties during the long illness being undertaken by Miss H. M. Jones, as deputy-president.

247Miss H. M. Jones, in a letter on Christmas Day, 1894, speaks for the whole body in her expression of sorrow—

“How many will feel to-day that they have lost a friend on whose judgment and advice they could always rely! Few women have exercised so great an influence on the educational movements of the present day, and still fewer have worked so hard as she has done to secure the greatest possible advantages to the girls of this and future generations. She will be greatly missed and greatly mourned.

“It is just twenty-one years ago that a few of us head-mistresses met during the Christmas holidays to establish the Association, of which she has since then been the honoured president, and in which she always took so great an interest. In fact, as you know, Miss Buss has been foremost as a leader in all our deliberations and in all our efforts.”

Miss Elsie Day, of the Grey Coat Hospital, Westminster, adds a very interesting fact in the history of the Association; as, after the expression of personal grief, she says—

“She was emphatically the mother of the head-mistresses. We looked to no one, as we did to her, for wise and loving help. For myself, I can only say I have loved her for twenty years.

“What I am anxious for is, that in any notice of her, when it would be suitable, it should be mentioned that it was at her request that, when the Head-mistresses’ Association met here, in 1885, there was a special celebration for the Association. She wrote in the sweetest and most modest way, asking me if I saw my way to it, and Canon Furse celebrated at my request. Such an early celebration has been held and much appreciated almost every year since.

“It is because I believe that I have had the credit of initiating this that I am desirous that it should be known that, although I made the arrangements, the thought was hers. We want to help the younger heads to realize her beautiful unwitting saintliness.”

Another friend among the head-mistresses, whom she often visited, tells how at night Miss Buss liked 248that they should kneel down, and together say the Veni Creator.[15]

15.  This simplicity and devoutness are well shown in a letter to my father, in reply to a poem which he had sent her. He was for many years an invalid, and Miss Buss kept him in constant remembrance in sending flowers or books. She knew that she was never forgotten in his prayers—

“Myra Lodge, December 4, 1883.

Dear Mr. Ridley,

“It is very good of you to write to me, and I shall take great care of your letter. Miss Hickey’s poem is very beautiful and suggestive. In my intensely active life I do feel, at times especially, the need of spiritual uplifting. Early last week, before your letter came, I had felt this from joining a communion service in the house of a dear friend, whose only child, a grown-up son, was dangerously ill.

“I know very little of thought-transference, but I wonder whether in some wonderful and mysterious way this craving was made known to you.

“With my love and earnest thanks,

“Believe me, dear Mr. Ridley,

“Yours most truly,

Frances M. Buss.”

Those who knew her best know best the force of the description given of her by her friend Miss Beale in her deeply appreciative sketch[16]

16.  Guardian, January 9, 1895.

How full of prayer was her life only a few intimate friends know; one felt that for her the words were true, ‘They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;’ and one is glad to think that these words are in a higher sense true for her now—

‘I count that heaven itself is only work
To a surer issue,’

and that those who have entered into rest, yet rest not, but in their glorified life give utterance to that fuller vision of holiness which was once hidden by the clouds of earth.”

The prayerful attitude of spirit characteristic of all who live “as seeing things invisible” must tend to the graces of simplicity and humility. Nothing was more touching than to note these special graces in one so 249strong and so capable, so eager and impetuous, and dowered with a will that swept everything before it. Her own personal wants were of the simplest, and no one ever gave less trouble to those around her. From Mr. Latham, who, as secretary to the Endowed Schools’ Commission, saw most of her in her public life, comes a very striking testimony to this point in her character when, after acknowledging with full appreciation how she “has done the state good service,” he adds—

“The simplicity of her life and the tranquillity of her demeanour always seemed to me to mark her out in rather a special way among her comrades in the cause of the education of women and girls, of which she was a most distinguished pioneer.”

Amid the apparently endless multiplicity of her objects in life ran the one simple purpose of faithful service, and thus in all complexity there was still a complete order. Confusion is the result only of the clash of selfish aims with social duties. To the “heart at leisure from itself” life must always remain simple and harmonious.

To this humility Miss Beale also bears witness, touching first on a point of special interest in connection with their professional work—

“The next thing that struck us was her generosity, not only in money—though that was very great—but in personal service, in thoughtfulness of others. If there was any improvement she could suggest in organization, in methods of teaching, she made it her business, at no little expense of money and time, to distribute the information to others; never considering them as rivals, but as fellow-workers, in a common cause.

“Next to her charity, one was impressed by her humility. ‘Let each esteem other better than themselves,’ was the rule of her own life, while she always seemed to look for excellences, rather than failings, and to seek to develop, in all, the right emulation, ‘If there be any virtue, any praise, think of these things.’”

250One of our greatest teachers tells us that “the test of a truly great man is his humility,” and certainly to the small, self-centred soul no grace is more difficult of attainment.

This humility was very striking in its contrast with the strength and power of this strong woman. In things large or small it was the same; she was the first to admit, either to teachers or pupils, any error of judgment, or any small seeming inconsiderateness, so easy in her terribly overcrowded life. Of this, one of the staff says aptly—

“She had also the power, so often wanting in a strong leader, of acknowledging a mistake. I shall never forget the impression made on me on receiving a note from her, apologizing for what I might perhaps characterize as a failure in courtesy. That was several years ago, but even then she was able to plead the pressure on her nerves of the work whose magnitude none of us can ever know.”

And one of the party of a Roman holiday relates, with moist eyes, how, one day when she had retired to her room, up a long flight of stairs, she heard a knock at the door, and there found Miss Buss, who had followed her all the way up just to say, “I am afraid, my dear, that I passed you without saying good morning; but I was thinking of something else at the moment, and only remembered it afterwards!”

In speaking of “our dear friend and helper, Miss Buss,” Miss Cooper, of Edgbaston, takes up the lesson of the life just closed, as she says—

“The whole of the educational world will grieve, and will feel the void caused by her death. But the full realization of the loss can only be felt by those who were drawn into the more intimate personal and professional relations in which Miss Buss showed her great and generous spirit in the best aspect.

“It is of the greatest help to remember the brave and loving spirit just gone from us, and to recall not only her words of hope 251and cheer to us, but also her encouragement to take up her work when it had perforce to be given up; and, in our turn, to help the younger members of our profession both in their own daily needs and difficulties, and also in their endeavour after a life that should realize the highest ideals with which such leaders as Miss Buss have inspired us.

“From such help as she gave us, one learns the gospel of helpfulness for others, and her life has inspired, and will continue to inspire, some of the best work that has made education a real and valuable thing for the women of England—work which has still to develop into greater usefulness as greater opportunities are presented to it.”

And, over and over, from the younger members of the association, come in varying form the same heartfelt utterances of personal loss, as in this—

“I cannot tell you how much she helped me from the first time I met her, when I went from the Cambridge Training College to work under her at her own school, till I left to become head of the West Ham School. There I rejoiced in having her as one of my governors, and there she has given me help and encouragement that I never can repay. But I know I am only one of many whom she taught and advised without a thought of the trouble to herself.”

Never, surely, had formal vote of condolence less of mere form, or more of love and sorrow than that sent by the Head-mistresses’ Association to the friends of their “honoured and beloved president,” as they say—

“As a body, we lament the loss of our head; as individuals, we mourn a dear and honoured friend, who, whether in the cause of public progress or of private friendship, was ever ready to spend herself, her time, and thought for others, and share with them the fruits of her sound judgment and experience.

“We appreciate most thoroughly the splendid work that she accomplished in the sphere of education, and the important part she played in gaining for women the great educational advantages which they now enjoy, but for the moment we are more disposed to dwell upon her personal influence, her wide sympathies, her never-failing readiness to give help and counsel, her public spirit, and her loyal, affectionate disposition.”



“That human beings, whether male or female, come into the world not merely to ‘get a living,’ but to live; that the life they live depends largely on what they know and care about, upon the breadth of their intellectual sympathy, upon their love of truth, upon their power of influencing and inspiring other minds; and that, for these reasons, mental culture stands in just as close relation to the needs of a woman’s career in the world as to that of a man—all these are propositions which, if not self-evident, are at least seen in a clearer light by the people of our generation than by their predecessors.”—J. G. Fitch.

“The thing that vexes me is the entirely ignoring Miss Emily Davies, to whose hard work it may fairly be said the whole movement is due. She memorialized the Endowed Schools Commission to include girls in their inquiries; she bore the brunt of the fight about getting the Cambridge Local Examinations open, and she called Girton into existence.”

So wrote Miss Buss to Dr. J. G. Fitch, in 1879, when roused to protest against some statements in a book entitled, “Girls and Colleges for Women,” which appeared at that date, and especially to protest against what invariably roused her deepest ire—the failure to give honour where honour was due. Of her it might always be said that she fulfilled the lovely law of Christian life, “In honour preferring one another.” As Miss Davies says, in reference to the passage just quoted, “It was like Miss Buss, so full as she was of 253generosity, to be eager in protest against what she regarded as a slight to another, not herself.”

Constantly recurrent, in speech and in writing, do we find testimony of the value attached by Miss Buss to the University Local Examinations, of which she was among the first to make use.

It was in consequence of the exertions of Miss Davies, assisted by Miss Bostock, of Bedford College, and a small band of steady supporters, that, in 1863, girls were, for the first time, and in an informal way, allowed to try the examination papers set for boys.[17]

17.  Extract from the first circular—

“A committee of ladies and gentlemen interested in female education have made arrangements for holding examinations of girls in connection with the University of Cambridge, commencing December 14. Prizes and certificates of proficiency will be awarded by the committee, following the recommendations of the examiners.

“The examinations will be conducted in accordance with the Regulations of the Cambridge Local Examination, but in a private manner and under the superintendence of the ladies of the committee.

“The committee included the names of Miss Bostock, Miss Isa Craig, Russell Gurney, Esq., G. W. Hastings, Esq., James Heywood, Esq., Dr. Hodgson, Mrs. Manning, Mrs. Hensleigh Wedgwood, Mr. H. R. Tomkinson, Esq., with Lady Goldsmid as treasurer, and Miss Emily Davies as hon. sec. The same committee worked for Girton College, with the addition of Lady Stanley of Alderley, Lady Augusta Stanley, Miss Shirreff, Mrs. Russell Gurney, Miss Ponsonby, Miss Rich, Miss F. Metcalfe, Mr. Bryce, Mr. Roby, and Mr. Gorst.”

It was not then known if they were even capable of the necessary mental effort. The result, however, proved so satisfactory that the next year saw the formation of a “London Centre for Girls,” of which Miss Davies was honorary secretary until Girton took up her time, when she was succeeded by Mrs. Wm. Burbury.

To the first irregular examination in 1863 Miss Buss sent in 25 girls out of the total of 80. Much to her surprise, ten of her pupils failed in arithmetic, with the result that she so reorganized her system of 254teaching that henceforth few of her girls failed in that subject.

Between the years 1871 and 1892 no less than 1496 pupils passed in the Cambridge Local Examinations, of whom 494 took honours.

There is an amusing letter to Miss Davies just before the examination of 1865, which shows how these things looked thirty years ago—

“12, Camden Street, Dec. 5, 1865.

My dear Miss Davies,

“Pray excuse my not answering your note till now. I am literally ‘over head and ears’ in work. There is so much to look after just now.

“Those dreadful Cambridge examiners! Their digestion would certainly be impaired if they only knew how indignant I am with them. Why, the time hitherto allowed for an examination is an ‘insult’ to us; but now they have added ‘injury,’ by curtailing the time for English subjects—English, too! The subject in which a girl might hope to pass with credit! But we must endure it, as we can’t cure it.

“No doubt you are blissfully ignorant of the change. You are not an unfortunate school-mistress, with a reputation to maintain!

“And our girls! We sometimes think they have taken leave of their senses. Either we have taken up too much, or they are hopelessly stupid. I almost fear the former.

“Is the Cambridge Exam. to take place at that room in Conduit Street? And, please let the unhappy victims have plenty of paper before the bell rings. And I hope Miss Craig or Miss Bostock, or some one, will be there to help you in distributing the examination papers, wherever there is any English going on, for even one minute is worth something when the time is so limited.

“I hope this is not asking too much; it is for all, at any rate....

“Believe me,

“‘Genuinely and heartily’ yours,

“My dear Miss Davies,

Frances M. Buss.

“I mean to worry, worry, worry for a carte de visite of you. If you do not give way, then I shall worry, worry, worry Mrs. Davies.”

255In the same letter Miss Buss says—

“I am half-inclined to think of trying inspection next year on our own account; the expense would, however, be one consideration, but the experiment would be worth trying.”

In 1864, Miss Buss had been inspected by Mr. Fearon, on behalf of the Schools Inquiry Commission, and her account of it to her sister is very characteristic. That the inspector did not share her own estimate of her girls is proved by the place given to her school, and by the invitation to appear before the Commissioners in 1865.

“Camden Street, June 24, 1864.

“Mr. Fearon is such a nice man! I like him much (as I said to Miss Begbie, I have taken to liking people lately: Economics, I suppose). He knows what he is about; is quick without being abrupt; and most certainly taught me a good deal. It was really wonderful to see how rapidly he arrived at an estimate. The morning was spent in getting information out of me about the history, birth, growth, management, income, etc., of the school.

“He went, however, to calisthenics, and also through all the rooms, counting those who were present, and comparing them with the registers. After lunch, he examined the upper third in arithmetic, dictation, reading, geography, requesting Miss —— to give a history lesson before him.

“The children did the wildest things! I could have annihilated them over and over again. One young monkey said the ‘Artic’ Ocean was in some ridiculous place. He said, ‘What?’ She answered, ‘Artic.’ He said, ‘Spell it!’ To which, with the most graceful complaisance, she said ‘a-r-t-i-c.’ Was she not a wretch? Miss ——’s lesson was horrible—she dropped a few h’s, and asked foolish questions, which produced equally absurd answers. For instance, she asked some question about the death of Rufus, to which the reply was, ‘Oh, they carried him away in a dustcart!’ ‘William the Conqueror left the Holy Land to Robert.’ When corrected, the children said, ‘Oh, well, it was Canaan.’

“They were restless and fidgety, did not obey orders; and, in fact, were as dreadful as they could be. If the first class do not acquit themselves relatively better, our report will be a queer one. I have made an appeal to them.

256“The inspection has produced the pleasing result that our children are not near the average of the same age in a National School. No grant under the revised code would be given to us. Charming, is it not? In spelling, for instance, the National School children are allowed only an average of one mistake in a class. Our little ones made eight and a half each instead of one each. In arithmetic, the standard is half a mistake, and ours made two and a half. The copy-books were reported as bad; everything was bad! But I do not mind, provided the elder girls come out well.”

The next experience does not seem to have been much happier, for on July 7 she says—

“I could not write yesterday. There were so many callers, and the fact is that, since the inspection of yesterday, I have collapsed, bodily and mentally!

“The heat, too, is dreadful, and I am quite overdone with it. The whole of last evening and this morning, except for an hour, I lay half unconscious on the bed or sofa, incapable of reading, thinking, or sleeping. I am in a state of tears whenever I think of Wednesday. I do not say the girls have not done well. In comparison, probably, with others, very well; but they did not do their best.

“In a really easy arithmetic paper, not one, or only one, touched the decimals. In history, they sat doing nothing for twenty minutes, although there was a question, ‘The dates of following battles.’ Actually, not one girl in my division attempted to give the least account of the battle, or result, or anything about it but the bare date, which, of course, in half the cases, would be wrong; because in our examinations, they said, it was of no use to do more than the absolute answer to the question. Is it not cruel to me, after my life has been given to the work?”

A letter dated 1869, five years later, shows how Miss Buss must have profited by the experience of this inspection, for she writes in very good spirits of the results of the Cambridge Local Examinations—

“All our girls have passed except one. Six of Miss Metcalfe’s have passed, one with second class, and one with third class honours. My list is good. Esther Greatbatch has first class, and 257two have third class. Of seniors, two have third class; so we have five honours. Three of the girls are distinguished in Religious Knowledge. On the whole we have done well.”

In 1876, after another inspection, the tone changes again, and we find, in comparing 1864 with 1876, that the times have changed also. Miss Buss thus writes to me, during the inspection, which seems to have been enlivened by suppers, in which the girls showed off their domestic accomplishments, everything, including bread, being made by their own hands—

“You cannot imagine how much the inspection puts on me. Luckily, we like our examiner very much indeed, and that lightens our work. Shall I say this, after seeing his report? He must find fault—that is the business of inspectors—their raison d’être. If he finds defects, the existence of which I do not suspect, I shall not mind so much, because that will be a case of living and learning. But I am conceited enough to think that I could be an inspector myself! We had a fine supper last night, cooked by the lady-cooks! They were so happy! Ella will tell you all about it some time.”

That particular report does not happen to be before me, but there is a letter from one of H.M. Inspectors of Schools, written to Miss Buss, in 1887, which may stand as representative—

“I had the pleasure of visiting the North London Collegiate School last week, under the able guidance of Miss Dillys Davies. I was very sorry not to see you, so that I might express to you how delighted I was with all I saw. I have seen no better appointed school. I have long considered your school—judged by results—as the best girls’ school in England, but I had never seen the admirable rooms and apparatus.

“I have often named the school to lady-friends, but I find that there is still, alas! a terrible blindness as to what constitutes true education, and the unfortunate girls are sent to be finished in the usual orthodox way in the usually indifferent establishments.

258“Permit me to add one more congratulation (to the thousands you must have already received) in appreciation of the noble work you are doing.”

The advance was strikingly rapid. In 1863, it was not even known whether girls were able to undertake the work required for the Cambridge Local Examinations. Even in 1876, Miss Buss writes thus of the results, which had not quite satisfied the honorary secretary of her centre, as compared with those of the year before—

“But please remember that last year the senior Cambridge girls formed the highest class; this year there are thirty-two girls in a higher division, studying for the London University Matriculation. Our girls have this year, in the greater number of cases, gone up at sixteen, instead of seventeen, and that makes a difference. We shall send up twelve or fourteen for the Matriculation in May. Sara Burstall, two terms only from Camden School, and my scholar, gets half the £12 prize offered to the best senior girls. Mr. Browne wrote to me to say so. I ought to be content.”

For some years Miss Buss sent her pupils to the first London centre at Burlington House, where Miss Davies was very much struck by the way in which she—who had done so much to forward the movement—took her place simply and quietly among the others, whose part had been merely to accept what had been done for them.

But when the school in Camden Road had acquired rooms large enough to meet the Cambridge requirements, Miss Buss considered it would be well to form a new centre, and asked me to undertake the correspondence involved. Miss Davies writes in reply to my first note—

“Your suggestion of a centre for North London strikes me as an admirable one. I should like to have a cordon of centres all round London, and we seem now to be making a beginning to it. 259Would it be possible to have also a St. John’s Wood Centre? We found last year that Bayswater was of no use to St. John’s Wood. Whether this district would produce enough candidates to support a centre of its own I do not know.... I am so glad you are taking up this matter so energetically and judiciously.”

In July, 1872, Miss Buss sent me a list of ladies who had agreed to act as the committee of the Regent’s Park Centre. When we remember that the duties included attendance for the honorary secretary from 9 a.m. till 9 p.m., for three or four days out of the six, and that two or more ladies of the committee must be present whenever an examination is going on, it will be seen that this meant work. This first list met with warm approval from the Rev. G. F. Browne, at Cambridge, as showing the interest taken in the then new movement by persons known in the educational world. We find here the names of Mrs. Charlton Bastian, Mrs. Fox Bourne, Miss Orme, Mrs. Percy Bunting, Mrs. J. G. Fitch, Mrs. Hales, Mrs. Henry Morley, and Mrs. Williamson. Mrs. Avery, Miss Sarah Ward Andrews, Miss Agnes Jones, Miss Swan, and myself completed the first list. My sister, Miss J. T. Ridley, was appointed honorary secretary, and remained in this post till 1894, when she was succeeded by Miss Hester Armstead, who had been a most successful candidate in both Junior and Senior Examinations, before distinguishing herself in the Cambridge Classical Tripos.

The number of candidates increased so rapidly that, in 1873, it was necessary to arrange an Islington Centre to take the North London pupils, and, in 1874, to open the St. John’s Wood and Hampstead Centre, of which Miss Swan became the able honorary secretary for over twenty years. If we could have foreseen such results, the name of Regent’s Park Centre would never have 260been given to the original centre, which would have been known, from the first—as what it so soon became—the centre for the pupils of Miss Buss’ schools only.

There is a letter from Miss Buss, in reference to the one difficulty which ever occurred at this centre, which has interest in showing her on both sides: the gracious and the severe. A girl had broken the rules, and was, therefore, condemned to forfeit her examination, the honorary secretary pleading in vain against this fiat—

“Just a line, dear Jeanie, to express to you, on my own part and that of the teachers in the Cambridge Forms, my and their hearty thanks for all the work you have done for us this week. Everything has gone admirably, and my share of the work was never less burdensome. Indeed, I have had nothing to do with the Cambridge work except look on!

“Do not think me a monster, but, of all the hard lessons I have had to learn, none has been so hard as the one which makes me, for the moment, not only refuse sympathy, but actually speak harshly—if there is a stronger word I would use it. In the years to come, I hope many a woman will thank me in her heart for behaving harshly to her in her girlhood, in all matters of tears or want of self-control, and so putting before her another ideal: that of the woman strong to bear, to endure, to suffer, rather than that of the weak woman always ready to give way at the least difficulty. Afterwards I always reason out the whole matter; but it is always afterwards; never at the time.

“My love to you, Annie, and your father.

“Always yours affectionately,

Frances M. Buss.”

The following note to Miss Buss from one of the examiners of the Regent’s Park Centre shows how much she had to do with the decision to print the girls’ names, as the boys’ names had always been printed; a step then regarded as a rather alarming innovation:—

261“March 2, 1874.

“I have had some conversation with the other members of the Local Examinations Syndicate, and I think I am warranted in expressing an opinion that if the subject of the printing of the girls’ names in the published lists were again brought before the Syndicate by a representation signed by influential local secretaries and others who are interested in the question, it would meet with a different solution than it has done heretofore, thanks to the remarks you have made to me of your own experience.

“I told Mr. Browne in our last conversation that I thought the best way to bring the matter before us again would be for me to write to you, and give you an intimation of the present feeling, and you would know through whom to move.”

In the same spirit in which she had entered into the Cambridge Local Examinations did Miss Buss throw herself into the larger work which soon engrossed Miss Davies, viz. the development of Girton College. The members of the Kensington Society were the first supporters of this movement, one of the leaders being Mrs. Manning, who, with Miss Davies and Mr. Sedley Taylor, and Mr. Tomkinson, took part in the first meeting of a committee, on December 5, 1867, to consider “A Proposed College for Women.”

In 1869 a house was taken at Hitchin, where five students were received, Mrs. Manning acting for the first three months as Lady Principal. She was succeeded, for the next year, by Miss Emily Shirreff, who relates that a proposition to go as missionary to Fiji would at that time have caused less amazement to her friends than this venture into untried ways. Miss Davies herself was the first Head at Girton.

The effort to obtain the £13,000 required for the new buildings was, like all other early efforts of the kind, a work of courage and patience. The first £1000 was given by Madame Bodichon, and the same sum by Miss E. A. Manning, while £8000 had been collected by 262the committee. One of the things hard to bear by those who had made it possible to take such a step was the foundation of the new Holloway College, with magnificent buildings for which there were then no students, whilst Girton was still struggling for the merely necessary accommodation needed for its students actually in residence.

Occupied as she was with the same effort to obtain funds for her own schools, Miss Buss could not give much pecuniary help. But she did help very largely by her influence, being always and everywhere an able propagandist of the new ideas.

Side by side with the Girton movement went another which began with a set of lectures started by the Cambridge Ladies’ Association, in January, 1870, to enable women-students to take advantage of the instruction offered by Trinity College. For the accommodation of ladies attending these lectures a house in Cambridge was taken by Mr. Sidgwick, Miss Clough being placed at the head of it. This beginning, known as Merton Hall, developed rapidly into the present Newnham College, with its now fine building, possessing the advantage over Girton—which is distant three miles out of Cambridge—of being within easy access to all the advantages of the University.

The work at Newnham differs from that at Girton in offering a special examination for women, under the authorization of the University and with certificates, but not demanding the same work from women that was imperative for men.

From the first, Miss Davies and her friends—Miss Buss being very firm on this point—had steadily resisted every offer that made a separation between men and women. They demanded for women the very same curriculum as that expected from men. The trend 263of public opinion has on the whole been in this direction during the later progress of the movement, and although several difficult questions are still to be solved, few now doubt that in the beginning it was expedient to make the demand in the form in which it was made.

Miss Buss made frequent visits to Girton and to Newnham, having a succession of pupils there. I remember her enjoyment, as well as my own, as she took me to see them for the first time, when we lunched at Girton with Miss Bernard, and afterwards had tea with Miss Clough, at Newnham; in both Colleges being shown about by old pupils, delighted to show their pretty rooms to their dear friend.

The present head of Girton writes, now that these visits are of the past—

“It is not merely the thought of what, with her great abilities and vast stores of experience, she might still have accomplished, if she had been spared in health and strength till old age overtook her, but the feeling that the world and her friends are so much poorer by the loss of one of the best and truest women that ever lived, that fills me with regret. As you know, it has been my privilege to count her among my staunchest friends, and I feel that to me, at least, one unfailing source of sympathy and support is lost now that she is gone. There are others who can tell better than I can what her help meant to the college in early days. I know well how much it has owed to her in later times, and in how many ways we shall miss her now.”

Miss Helen Gladstone gives another side of the work—

“I sincerely wish that I could show my respect and affection for Miss Buss by attending either or both services to-morrow; but I am too far off to make it possible. I most truly lament her death, and I feel most grateful to her for her splendid work for not merely education, but Church education. It was in connection with such work that I knew her best, and gained the privilege of forming a friendship with her.”

264I have been favoured by Mr. Menzies with an interesting account of an experiment of great importance in the early days of the University movement, in which Miss Buss took an active part. When Miss Davies first propounded her scheme to the School-Mistresses’ Association, it was regarded by most of the members as a thing impossible. Mrs. Menzies, one of the members, was known to have been educated by her father, Dr. King, on the same lines as his boy-pupils. Her classmates, as men, won University honours, while Mrs. Menzies went on with her studies at home with so much success that in after life she was able to act as a classical “coach” to young men preparing for the University.

Her opinion of the subject of the University career for girls was naturally of weight; and she was asked to answer these two important questions—

“(1) Could girls, beginning their classical studies at fourteen or fifteen years of age, be able to hold their ground when placed in competition with young men who had begun the same studies in their eighth or ninth year? (2) Would it be necessary to alter the entire system of teaching in girls’ schools, so as to make classics the dominant study from the age at which boys usually began?”

As Mrs. Menzies was unacquainted with everything connected with girls’ schools, she was unable to give any definite opinion. She had taught Latin and Greek to a few ladies, but these had always been above the schoolgirl age.

Here Miss Buss’ practical turn of mind came to the rescue. She first proposed that Mrs. Menzies should take a senior class in the North London School, and make the experiment; and when she found that Mrs. Menzies was unable to give the time required for going 265to Camden Town, she then chartered an omnibus, and sent the pupils to the teacher.

We hear that, at first, the size of the class rather alarmed Mrs. Menzies, but—

“she soon felt at ease with girls so sympathetic, earnest, and intelligent. She determined to keep them to Latin exclusively, and see how far she could carry them on in the limited time, without strain. Long before the end of the term, she came to the conclusion that girls, trained as these had been, could easily, by the time they were admissible to the University, be perfectly able to pass the preliminary examination, and do as well as the freshmen who usually go up for it. She was of opinion that the time given by boys to athletics lost them the advantage which their six or seven years’ earlier start might otherwise have given them.”

Mr. Menzies concludes—

“This important experiment, which the foresight and management of Miss Buss made possible, showed the school-mistresses that these pupils could obtain the advantage of University training without any alteration of their studies up to fourteen or fifteen years of age. In consequence, such of the school-mistresses who had hesitated about Miss Davies’ University scheme, were reconciled to it, and, in course of time, approved of it.”

In February, 1873, there is a report in the Union Journal of the first examination for the Mathematical Tripos, held at Cambridge, in connection with Girton College. Miss S. Woodhead was examined, by the official examiners, in their private capacity, and they reported on her papers according to the University standards. The marks assigned would have placed Miss Woodhead among the senior optimes, i.e. in the second class of mathematical honours. In April, 1873, Miss Cook and Miss Lumsden took what would have been second- and third-class honours.

At the usual Convocation of the University of London, held on May 12, 1874, Dr. Storrar presiding, it was moved by the Rev. Septimus Buss, and finally 266resolved, “That, in the opinion of Convocation, it is desirable that women should be permitted to take degrees in the University of London.”

This resolution was warmly supported by that unfailing friend of the higher education of women, Dr. J. G. Fitch, who stood his ground against the not less warm opposition, headed by Dr. Quain, who, referring to Mrs. Somerville, asked “if the University was to go for a new charter just to further the ambition of a few exceptional women?” Dr. Gibson, also in opposition, urged that a woman could not take up a University course without detracting from her other powers, for, as woman was differently organized, it was necessary to give her a different education; and he asked “if the University was to direct its work by general wants, or by exceptional wants—the wants of a few masculine women?”

From the fact that many of Miss Buss’ pupils were resident in London, it followed that most of them were likely to avail themselves of the facilities of the London University, even apart from the fact that London was the first to grant degrees, an event of great excitement to all women, of which Miss Buss writes in 1878—

“The great thing of last week is the opening of the examinations and degrees of London University to women! An immense concession, and one which must be followed in time by the older universities.

“It is just fifteen years ago since the agitation began about opening the local examinations, and now, I suppose, the cause is won along the whole line.”

In a “Note on the Origin and History of the University of London” (University Calendar), we find this record—

“The experiment of offering encouragement for women to pursue a course of academic education, was at first tried under 267limitations which somewhat impeded its success. Under the powers given in the Charter of 1867, women were not rendered admissible to the ordinary examinations, but two forms of certificate were offered to female students—the one general, and the other of higher proficiency. In the scheme for both examinations, prominence was given to those subjects which it was presumed that women and their teachers would prefer. But the number availing themselves of this privilege was small, and the privilege itself was not highly valued. Moreover, it was found that the chief distinctions attained by women in these examinations were not gained in the special subjects, but in the classical languages and in science. It was urged by the teachers that women did not desire a scheme of instruction exclusively devised for their use, but would prefer to have access to the ordinary degrees and honours, and to be subject to the same tests of qualification which were imposed on other students.

“After much discussion, the Senate and Convocation agreed to accept from the Crown, in 1878, a Supplemental Charter, making every degree, honour, and prize awarded by the University accessible to students of both sexes on perfectly equal terms. The University of London was thus the first academical body in the United Kingdom to admit women as candidates for degrees. The record of the results which have followed this measure will be found in the statistical tables and in the honours and distinctions which have since been won by female candidates.”

On the point of granting degrees, on the same terms for women as for men, Miss Buss was always most decided. She endeavoured to carry the Head-mistresses’ Association with her in presenting a memorial to the University authorities, but in this she failed, as is shown in the following letter to Miss Davies—

“Myra Lodge, July 24, 1877.

My dear Miss Davies,

“It was so impossible to agree at our committee yesterday that we gave up the idea of sending a memorial from the Head-mistresses’ Association.

“At the committee, only five would vote for the degree on absolutely equal terms, and eight were against it. Of the absent 268members five wrote against it, so there would have been a large majority against.

“Each mistress can sign the memorial she prefers. So, I suppose, ‘we,’ that is, my colleagues and I, had better sign your memorial.

“I heard, for the first time, that men from the affiliated colleges—Nottingham, for example—could get a degree without the Little-Go, and with only two years’ residence. This, if correct, does modify things a little. I heard, also, that Dr. Sidgwick would vote for the degree being given on the same terms as now, i.e. I suppose, on Girton and Newnham lines.

“Yours always truly,

Frances M. Buss.

“My young people were delighted with their visit to Girton.”

In a letter to Dr. Fitch, dated July 24, 1879, Miss Buss thus expresses her satisfaction with the success of the efforts in this direction—

Dear Mr. Fitch,

“Many thanks for your kind note, which gave me great pleasure. I am glad to know that our friends are satisfied with the result of their exertions on our behalf so far.

“The fight was hard. I wonder how the women will do in the B.A. and B.Sc. Examinations.

“Cheltenham has done as well as usual. Nine candidates out of ten passed in this last matriculation examination.

We are exceptionally fortunate this year, but our success is largely owing to my accomplished and brilliant young fellow-worker, Mrs. Bryant, who is as good and charming as she is clever.

“I thank you most heartily for your congratulations, dear Mr. Fitch.

“Believe me,

“Yours always truly,

Frances M. Buss.

“To J. G. Fitch, Esq., M.A.”

In 1881, Mrs. Grey writes to Miss Buss from Naples, on the receipt of the Cambridge Calendar

269“This scheme seems as good as we could expect, and embracing all the most important points so contended for. On the whole, when I recollect the indifference, and sometimes the contemptuous opposition that one met with, even when I first read a paper on the subject, some six years ago, I think the progress has been unexpectedly rapid; and it will be indefinitely accelerated when the Universities (or Cambridge alone) have published their scheme.”

It is only by carefully contrasting the state of girls’ education in 1863 with what, in 1895, is accepted as the natural order of things, that we can estimate duly the value of the work done by the leaders in this movement, amongst whom prominent places must be assigned to Emily Davies and Frances Mary Buss.

We have a pleasant little glimpse of the relations that existed between the two friends in a note found among Miss Buss’ most treasured possessions, with a piece of needlework, marked in her writing, as “worked by Miss Davies.”

“8, Harewood Square, Dec. 20, 1890.

Dear Miss Buss,

“I am sending you, in a separate packet, marked, ‘to await return,’ in case you have already left town, a chair-back, which I have had great pleasure in working for you. Will you accept it as a small token of affection and good will? I have thought much of you while putting in the stitches, and of the high and noble qualities which I have had so many opportunities of observing during our long and unbroken friendship.

“All Christmas blessings to you and yours.

“Ever yours sincerely,

Emily Davies.”

As a summing-up of Miss Buss’ attitude with regard to this great question, I am indebted to Mrs. Bryant for the following remarks which embody the results of many a consultation between the head and her 270sympathetic colleague, whose own career is so strikingly illustrative of the whole question:—

“In the earlier years of the Cambridge Colleges, Miss Buss was one of the most ardent supporters of the attempt to win for women admission to the opportunities and recognition of the older Universities. The part she took was the very useful one of supplying students trained in her school, few of whom would probably have gone on to a college career but for the stimulus of her advice and encouragement. Times have greatly changed since then. At that time there was a small band of women bent on carrying out an ideal which is now partly fulfilled, and very widely accepted, and there were a few girls, growing into womanhood, with the eager thirst for knowledge that defies obstacles. These latter were the first Cambridge students. But the great mass of social feeling was hostile, or at the best contentedly acquiescent in the existing state of affairs. It was for the conversion of this conservatively acquiescent, but not hostile, feeling, that missionary effort was needed, and Miss Buss, among her girls and their parents, was the most ardent and convincing of missionaries. She would captivate intellectually, and persuade morally, the girl whom she saw as destined for the higher intellectual things, and she would educate or persuade the parents to take her view, or at any rate, give it a trial. As a matter of course, we now ask of an elder girl in school what she intends to do in her after-career, and the majority of girls, or their parents, have some idea, or are trying to form one. But in the early seventies it was not so, and Miss Buss created ideals of the future for individuals out of little more than her perception of their capabilities.

“With regard to the difference of ideal end between the two Cambridge Colleges, Miss Buss, with her usual balance and moderation, held that the greater liberty, as regards time of residence and studies, allowed at Newnham, was very serviceable to a large class of students, especially at the beginning, whose circumstances and opportunities did not allow that they should completely carry out the regular University conditions. But she had, nevertheless, no doubt at all that the full University course, and the University degree as its recognition, was the end to be achieved by all who could achieve it. If the University were in need of reform, if more liberty should be allowed as regards Greek in particular, then, it seemed to her, that question should be fought out for both sexes alike, since there was no peculiar reason why 271women specially should abstain from the classics. But, to her mind, the over-balancing consideration was that the principle of equality in the race for such intellectual privileges as could be won, should be broadly asserted in the most emphatic way—‘a fair fight, and no favour,’ as she often said. She made no assumption about the extent of the average woman’s powers, but she smiled over the à priori views, once so common, which settled beforehand what their tastes should be—for literature, for botany, perhaps, for modern languages, certainly not for mathematics. So her sympathies, regarding the ultimate end to be attained, leaned to the system of Girton College, which fulfilled all the University conditions, and, pending the grant by the University of degrees, stamped each Girton student with a mark equivalent to graduation in all respects. The unlimited liberty of choice allowed to the women students at Oxford was, to her, a great stumbling-block. ‘It is impossible to follow the variety of the Oxford course in all its windings,’ she would say; ‘or to make out clearly what an Oxford woman has done.’ And there can be no doubt that the Oxford women who have done the best courses do suffer seriously in the practical world by the very indefinite character of the general stamp they wear. This, indeed, has come to be an important argument in favour of the grant of the Oxford degree to the fully qualified women.

“In these latter years, however, she, like others, felt that there was hope of great things, educationally, in the development of thought among the younger generation at Oxford. How deeply interested she was in the Conference on Secondary Education at Oxford! It was a great disappointment to her that on account of illness she could not be present. Telling her all about it afterwards was part of the conference to me.

“As regards the stumbling-block of compulsory Greek, it may be worth while to say a word here which should tend to dispel the fear that the requirement of Greek at the Universities will make Greek a necessary class-subject in the first-grade schools. It has not had this effect so far, I believe, in any of the schools supplying students to Girton. Only the small band of girls destined for a University course make it a study. In our practice at the North London Collegiate School, it is alternative with French, as Latin is with German; and it always comes late in the course. We see, however, that it is taught well, very well, when it comes.

“On May 15, 1878, on the occasion of the presentation of degrees at the University of London, the Chancellor, Lord Granville 272made the great announcement that henceforth women should be eligible for all the degrees and honours of the University. I was with Miss Buss in the gallery; it was a thrilling moment. The concession was unexpected, and it was so perfectly complete. There were no reservations in it, no locked doors, no exclusion from rights in the government of the University, or from eligibility for any of its posts. The time for experiment was over, and the test had been approved; the time for half-measures was over too. There never was a concession more freely or more graciously made, and with a largeness of wisdom and sympathy which cannot be honoured too much.

“At the same time, it was announced that the University would institute a diploma for teachers, and thus another much-desired end was also fulfilled. ‘I care for that almost as much,’ she said. But the prime interest centred in the grant of the degrees. How overjoyed she was! ‘What will you do?’ she said to me. ‘I will learn Latin,’ I said; ‘matriculate in January, and go on for the Doctor of Science degree in Philosophy.’

“In later years we did not sit in the gallery, however late we came, but in the front row. She never failed to come, not even last year, when, indeed, she found the effort trying. It was such a pleasure to her, year by year, to see the number of girl-graduates grow; and she rejoiced as much in the success of others as in that of her own flock. It was characteristic of her selflessness, her magnanimity, that, instead of presenting her distinguished pupils herself, she handed over to me from the first that honourable duty. ‘She liked it better so,’ she said. But thus it was in all things: wherever there was honour, she put me forward to share it. For herself she sought nothing.”

Photo. by Elliott and Fry.



“The science of education, so little thought of, so contemptuously ignored, is the crowning science of all, for it is the application of all the sciences to the production of the highest result—the perfect man.”—From a paper read by Mrs. Grey at the meeting of the British Association, 1874.

In 1873, the theory and practice of education were still so far apart that, in the March number of The Journal of the Women’s Education Union of that year, we find the following very definite statement:—

“Training colleges do not exist; the expense of founding them would place them almost hopelessly out of reach, though something might have been done by following up the example of the Home and Colonial in their private department. Mrs. Wm. Grey proposed a plan for a class of student teachers to form part of every large school, which was adopted by the Public Day-school Company, who are, however, not yet in a position to try it. It has also been approved by Miss Buss and Miss Beale, and is already in operation in Camden Town.”

In October, 1872, Miss Buss and Miss Doreck, the two ladies on the council of the College of Preceptors, had brought forward a scheme for establishing a “Training class of lectures and lessons for teachers;” and as a consequence of this effort the office of “Professor of the Science and Art of Education” was offered to Mr. Joseph Payne, whose inaugural address was given on January 30, 1873. Miss Buss and Miss Doreck took 274an active part in bringing together the seventy students (chiefly women) who attended these lectures. At Norwich, Dr. Hodgson spoke with strong approval of the step taken by the College of Preceptors in founding a professorship of the theory and art of education, and of their choice of Mr. Payne to fill this post. He spoke of the success of Mr. Payne’s lectures in London and in Edinburgh, and expressed a hope that such professorships would ere long be established “in one or more of the chief Scottish Universities also,” and added that “they were strongly to be desired for the English Universities also.”

Of Mr. Payne’s lectures there is a notice in the March Education Journal of the same year—

“The object of the whole course is to show that there are principles of education on which, in order to be efficient, practice must be founded; or, in other words, that there is a science of education, in reference to which the art must be conducted, and the value of its processes tested.”

Miss Buss’ feeling about these lectures is shown in a letter written in 1876, soon after the death of her much-valued friend—

“Because I have not enough to do, I am working up an attempt to raise a little memorial to Mr. Payne, the ablest teacher I have ever known—except Dr. Hodgson—and the man who has raised the noblest ideal before the profession. It cuts me to the heart to see his name lost to posterity, and after several fruitless attempts, it seems I must set the ball rolling. Will you or your father give something? I want the memorial to be a prize or scholarship in the new Teachers’ Training Society.”

Many a successful head-mistress must thank Miss Buss for her recommendation to these lectures. Mrs. Bryant and Miss Cooper, of Edgbaston, were among the students, and both became Fellows of the College. A letter from Miss Frances Lord says, in 1873—

275“I am attending Mr. Payne’s lectures, as you told me to do. My sister Emily goes too, and, as a teacher, makes remarks that Mr. Payne thinks well of. If she ever takes up Kindergarten work (as I want her to do), she will, I am sure, be greatly helped by these lectures. My friends, the Wards, find, as we do, that the questions Mr. Payne asks draw largely on common observation such as we have been practising and have been wanting to know the value of.”

Mr. Payne called attention to the principles of Kindergarten work, a subject brought to the front by Miss Shirreff, who wrote a series of articles in 1874, in the Journal, leading to the formation of the Frœbel Society, of which Miss Doreck was the first president, and Miss E. A. Manning the honorary secretary. Miss Manning read a paper on the subject at the meeting of the Social Science Congress, in the same year.

Miss Doreck had been elected—at Miss Buss’ suggestion—on the council of the College of Preceptors, and the two worked very heartily together.[18] On April 16, 1874, the two ladies formed part of a deputation by appointment to urge on the Duke of Richmond the formation of a Training College for Teachers.

18.  Miss Doreck’s special work was Kindergarten teaching, then quite a novelty in England. Miss Buss once said, “We shall not have thorough education till we have the Kindergarten;” but she could only help this movement on by helping others to do it.

The design of the deputation was—

“to have the scholastic professors placed on a similar footing to that of law and physics, and, in order to assist the Government in effecting that end, the College of Preceptors was ready to undertake the requisite corresponding functions of the Law Institution, the College of Surgeons, or a Pharmaceutical Society.”

The principle at stake may be considered the central thought of the whole life of Frances Mary Buss. To raise the ideal of teaching, and, with this, the status of the teacher, was the most definite purpose of this life; and, as means to an end, she recognized from the very 276first the supreme importance of training for the work. In her youth, the elementary school teacher was the only person happy enough to receive this preparation for his duties. All the rest—as was candidly avowed by one of the foremost schoolmasters of the day—had to gain their experience at the cost of their first pupils.

To her own mother Miss Buss was largely indebted for the insight which made her a leader in the training-college movements. When Mrs. Buss decided on opening her school in Clarence Road, she had the bold thought of preparing herself for the venture by going through the course offered at the Home and Colonial Institute to elementary teachers. At this distance of time, it is difficult to estimate duly the originality and the strength of mind implied in such a step. In the “forties,” the beaten track on which ladies were expected to walk securely was very straight and very narrow. But this bold step was taken, and it resulted in a permanent broadening of the way for all who came after, since the class for the training of secondary teachers was a direct result of Mrs. Buss’ own action. In this class, all the teachers of Miss Buss’ schools received their training, and it is of interest to note among the earliest students the names of Anne Clough, the founder of Newnham College, and of Jane Agnes Chessar, a teacher of very remarkable power, who was one of the first ladies elected on the School Board.

It might possibly have been due to the influence of the Rev. David Laing that Mrs. Buss originated her plan, but the credit remains with her of being the first in the field of action. The idea of training governesses was suggested as early as 1843, on the council of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution, but no action was taken before 1848, even to form classes.

We have seen that, as early as 1872, Miss Buss had 277the dream of a training college attached to her own school. This she gave up later in favour of the Maria Grey Training College. In November, 1872, Miss Beale writes to her—

“I did think much of our conversation about training governesses, and we have arranged to receive about six on the same terms as the ‘Home and Colonial.’ They can for this not only attend here but go to certain lessons on Method at the Normal Training College.”

The Training Department of the Cheltenham Ladies’ College is now one of the distinct branches of work there, including Kindergarten training, with the novel feature of a small Kindergarten for children of the elementary class, serving as a training school.

It was not till 1877 that Mrs. Grey succeeded in opening the college which now bears her name, up to which she and Miss Shirreff had been working in the Teachers’ Training and Registration Society, one of the offshoots of the Women’s Education Union.

For details of this work I am indebted to Miss Shirreff, and also to Miss Agnes J. Ward, one of the first principals of the college.

The council, in addition to Mrs. Grey and Miss Shirreff, consisted of Miss Chessar, Dr. E. A. Abbott, Mr. J. H. Rigg, Mr. R. N. Shore, Mr. C. H. Lake, and Mr. Douglas Galton. The articles of association were drafted by Mr. William Shaen, who, till his death, in 1886, was a generous and true friend to the college.

Miss Louisa Brough became secretary, under Mrs. Grey, as organizing secretary. Unhappily, after working for a year or so, Mrs. Grey’s health broke down, and she was ordered abroad. It was then that Miss Buss came to the front, though she had been quietly helpful from the beginning. Some letters to her from Rome show Mrs. Grey’s estimate of this help—

278“23, Piazza de Spagna, Roma,
“Feb. 11, 1879.

“It is really too good of you, in the midst of your hard-worked life, to make time for writing me such a charming long letter as I received a few days ago.... We have left the hotel, and have very sunny rooms just at the foot of the great stairs. How I wish you were over the way, where I used to pick you up two years ago.

“Except from yourself, we hear hardly anything from the college. Your hopeful report is a great joy to us, because you know the difficulties so well that you will never be over sanguine. How kind it is of you and Miss Chessar to work for it as you do, and Dr. Abbott deserves more thanks than I can express. I would like to write to him only I feel it would be imposing on him a letter to write, and that would be no kindness. Will you tell him this when you meet, and something of what we both feel about his generous gift of time and thought to the institution that we have cared for so earnestly and are driven to forsake.... We must, as you say, make our scheme as we go along, and large numbers would be an embarrassment. As to funds, you make no complaint, and that is comforting.... Once the college is in settled good work, and the Cambridge scheme is published, I cannot doubt that many will be found to help.”

Mrs. Grey was never strong enough to return to the work so near her heart, and her great comfort was in the thought that with Miss Buss’ oversight it must go on successfully. On the occasion of a presentation to Mrs. Grey of a beautiful casket, with an address from the Girls’ Public Day-school Company, Miss Shirreff writes thus to Miss Buss—

“We are both of us touched to the heart’s core by your letter. Such words from one who has herself been so brave and so successful a pioneer in the cause of woman’s education are the highest testimonial we could receive, and we value them as such. And a large debt we owe to you also, for all the practical organizations of our schools we learnt from you....

“I may honestly say that the receipt of that address, and the additional gratification of seeing yours and Miss Beale’s name attached to it, gave my sister the only real pleasure she has felt during the weary months of this year. The less she hopes ever to 279regain her power of work the more she values that testimony to the worth of her past work.

“We have had, of course, much passing enjoyment in the beautiful scenery we have dwelt amongst, but there is a dark shadow over all. It is not perhaps reasonable, when sixty is long passed, to mourn that an active career is stopped short, but you know better than any one how, in dealing with education, one must still feel that no one worker can be spared—do we not know how all the best are over-worked?”

Miss Ward gives us an interesting sketch of the growth of the work from the first.

“The aims of the society were mainly to provide for the professional training of teachers above the elementary. This training included both theoretical knowledge and practical skill. Unendowed as the society was, it was necessary to create a guarantee fund, and this was done by a few friends, while Miss Buss, sparing no pains to induce teachers to avail themselves of the advantages offered, contributed also from the first in money. At length, after the tentative stage of providing lectures for teachers, the council of the society were fortunate enough to secure from the Rev. Wm. Rogers the use of some rooms in Skinner Street, Bishopsgate, which served as a college for students, and leave for their students to practise teaching in the large and interesting girls’ school which now, thanks to the Dulwich Endowment Fund, lately available, is handsomely housed in Spital Square, E. In 1878, however, when the Training College opened, the school was in other and less convenient buildings. These have now disappeared, to make way for the Great Eastern Railway’s vast extension.

“Miss Alice Lushington was, in 1878, appointed principal of the college, and held the post till 1880, when Miss Agnes J. Ward became principal. Miss Buss lost no opportunity of urging the development of the work. She was indefatigable in her attendance at council meetings, and eager to show her strong appreciation of professional training by appointing as mistresses in her school those who had gone through a course partly theoretical and partly practical. Towards the end of 1880, owing to her strong feeling that the society should possess its own practising school, the council acquired the lease of No. 1, Fitzroy Square, and there, in January, 1881, under the headmistress-ship of Miss Lawford (now of the Camden School for Girls), a day school was opened and named 280after Mrs. Wm. Grey. In 1885, it became the chief practising school of the society which in that year transferred the Training College to Fitzroy Street from Bishopsgate. From that year, also, the college was called “The Maria Grey Training College.” Miss Buss was at that time desirous of affiliating the college to her schools; but after mature consideration the council held that it was better to pursue a more independent course, and wait until they could establish their work on a permanent foundation. This they accomplished in 1892, when their large College for Teachers, Day School for Girls, and Kindergarten were all transferred to Brondesbury, where they are finally located in a building which cost £13,000. This sum was collected by the energy and devotion of the council, and in this heavy task of collecting a fund for a work the value of which only experts could be expected fully to appreciate, Miss Buss took for years an active part. Her name on the council was of signal use in certain directions, notably in the matter of the Pfeiffer bequest. The sum of £4000 finally obtained by the college from the trustees enabled the council to complete their building and start their important work under Miss Alice Woods as principal. The council thus provided for pupils from three years old upwards, in surroundings at once adequate and suitable. Miss Buss’ strong faith in the importance of the council’s work, to education at large, her strenuous support in its early years of trial, her generous recognition and appraisement of the efforts of the staff, were as helpful as they were unflagging.”

The feeling of the council at the great loss which they sustained in the removal of one who had done so much for the college, is given in the minute which recorded that loss—

“It was moved by the Rev. T. W. Sharpe, chairman, seconded by J. G. Fitch, Esq., and carried unanimously: That the council of the Maria Grey Training College, in tendering an expression of their deepest sympathy with the family of the late Frances Mary Buss, desire to place on record their sense of the irreparable loss which the cause of education in general, and of women’s education in particular, has sustained by her lamented death; the council have also to deplore, on their own account, the loss of a highly valued colleague, whose long and active co-operation in their work of training women-teachers for secondary schools contributed largely to the success already attained, and to whose 281practical experience and wide-minded aims the council looked for still further support in the future.”

Nothing could show more distinctly the rapid growth of interest among women in higher education than a comparison of the help given to Mrs. Grey for the Training College with that given to Miss Davies and to Miss Buss for Girton and for the North London Collegiate School. Only a single decade had elapsed. In 1871, it was so hard to get even £10 donations, that the gift of £1000 to Girton from Madame Bodichon and from Miss E. A. Manning, and Miss Ewart’s £1000 for the Camden School, shine out like beacon-lights. In 1881, for the Training College, we are dazzled by the general blaze: Lady Farrer, Mrs. Pennington, and Mrs. Winckworth give each £1000, and Miss Ewart and Miss Soames each £500. Mr. Tomlinson also adds £1000, which, with £4000 from the Emily Pfeiffer Bequest, gives the college its start free from debt.

I have no record of Miss Buss’ gifts, but there is no doubt about her having done a fair share in this movement so specially interesting to her. When the Maria Grey College was safe, and pursuing its successful course, a fresh departure was originated by Miss Buss. It was hardly to be expected that graduates of Girton and Newnham would come to London to be trained, and it therefore seemed desirable to offer training at Cambridge.

On April 6, 1885, Miss Buss writes to me—

“I am begging for help towards starting an experiment at Cambridge for a class for training the Girton and Newnham students as teachers before they enter their profession. They will not go to Bishopsgate, but we (herself and Mrs. Bryant) think they may be induced to stay in Cambridge for a time.

“Cambridge is willing, and a suitable lady is ready. A house for seven students can be had. Mrs. Bryant is to harangue the Tripos students on the duty of fitting themselves for their work, and I am promised help to the extent of £50, but we must raise 282£200, and Cambridge cannot do this. I think, if we can induce the students to be trained, their fees will cover expenses, but we must guarantee at least £100 to Miss Hughes, the mistress.

“Will you (or can you, rather, with your other claims) help? Can you tell me where to apply for more? I have these promises: F. M. B. £10 (for three years), Miss Soames £10, Mrs. Bryant £10, Mr. Brooke Lambert £5, Mr. T. W. Sharpe £5, Mrs. Micholls £5, and Miss Behrens £5.”

My name was added to this list, and I find another letter dated April 1, 1891, when Miss Buss writes again—

“Do you know any one who, for the sake of education, would buy a house in Cambridge, and let it at once to the committee of the Teachers’ Training College? It would be a safe investment, and the committee could certainly pay four per cent. A splendid opportunity of getting three adjoining and connected houses offers. The college is successful, but the Cambridge people are poor, in one sense, as they are given to plain living and high thinking rather than to money making! Of course it would be easier if the three houses, each at £1200, could be got, but the committee would probably take one, and the others might be got by leaving a mortgage on them.

“I hardly think it right to take one myself, as I have No. 202 on me till the end of the year; and the leases of 87 and 89, in King Henry’s Road, and the house 85 next door, and this will probably be on my hands till the end of my life.”

In October of the same year, she sent out a letter to her friends bringing forward a scheme to secure a suitable building by starting a company to raise the necessary capital in £10 shares, to pay four per cent. She mentions that she and Mrs. Bryant are ready to put down their names for £750 between them, and asks for more names, before the first meeting of the committee, with an earnestness which could not be refused. In the end, however, illness prevented further effort on her part, and the work was done by others. Mrs. Bryant gives some interesting details—

283“My personal knowledge of her work in this field has to do with the history of the Cambridge Training College. We were much exercised in mind by the fact that the women educated at the Universities persisted in neglecting professional training. Either they despised it, or they could not afford it, or they did not like it, and could get entrance into the schools without it. Miss Buss, in her straightforward practical way, wondered that they did not see their own need of it; she thought it so obvious that a person undertaking a delicate task ought to learn as much as possible about the ways in which it is and can be done. I also wondered at the absence of desire in well-trained minds to get at a theory of their art founded on a knowledge of its bottom sciences. There, however, was the fact, and there was serious danger that the credit of training as a practical success would be impaired by the flow into the Training College of the less, and the avoidance of it by the more educated women. Of course we could convert and persuade the able North London girls, but these were only a handful comparatively, and after three years at college they were naturally not so docile to our ideas. Could anything be done to avert this growing danger that the teaching profession should fall into the two classes of those who were highly educated and not trained, and of those who were trained but not highly educated.

“We used to discuss the fact and its causes. Vis inertia certainly had much to do with it. The Head-masters’ Conference had passed resolutions in favour of training, but they had not raised a finger to support the Training College intended to supply them with masters. The head-mistresses, in larger numbers, believed, but it was not always convenient to insist on training as a necessary qualification in their intending mistresses. How was this inertia to be overcome, unless an enthusiastic belief could be awakened in the young intending teachers?

“Such a belief was far from forthcoming. Indeed, our chief stumbling-block lay in the distrust with which the ordinary academic mind was apt to look on the ideal of training. At the bottom of it lay, no doubt, a prejudice against the methods of the elementary training colleges, and an unexamined fear that all training must be more or less of that type. Otherwise it seemed to be for the most part a vague distrust inarticulate, unargumentative, but strong. On the other hand, there were leaders of thought in the universities who believed that there was a great work to be done in the development of educational theory and practice. In witness of their faith, Cambridge had not only instituted a teachers’ 284examination, but had established courses of lectures on teaching which were at that time barely attended.

“So the idea naturally shaped itself that training should be carried out under University influences, that this would insure for it the influence of the soundest theoretic ideas, and also that it might benefit by subjection to the criticism of the academic mind. A closer contact between the Training College and the Women’s Colleges at Cambridge would tend certainly, we thought, to better understanding and mutual adaptation. The practical thing, then, to be done was to establish a Training College for Women at Cambridge.

“Miss Clough, Mrs. Verrall, and Dr. James Ward were heartily in favour of the establishment of such a college, and several other Cambridge friends, including the present Bishop of Stepney, so well known at Cambridge as Canon Browne, and Miss Welsh of Girton, approved the proposal from the first. We held preliminary consultations, Mrs. Verrall acting as secretary, while Miss Buss representing the school-mistresses, and Dr. Ward the University, formed a powerful combination of enthusiasm and conviction in favour of the attempt. There were many difficulties; we were not rich in money-bags, and everything depended on finding the right person to act as principal. But there was a student at Newnham who took the first place in the Moral Science Tripos, known to Miss Clough as an able woman, to Miss Beale as a gifted teacher, and to Dr. Ward as a talented pupil, and the matter was settled by the acceptance of the principalship by Miss E. P. Hughes in June, 1885. In the September of that year, the college was opened in a few small cottages near Newnham. A guarantee fund was formed, and Miss Buss guaranteed £100. Students came, though of University students but a few, and by the zealous economy and good management of Miss Hughes the college paid its way. In 1887, it was moved into better houses in Queen Anne’s Terrace, and this year it has at last, after ten years, moved into suitable college buildings. Miss Buss never ceased to take the keenest interest in its success, though of late years she was not able to take an active part. It will always be a matter of deep regret to those of us who knew how dear its progress was to her that she never even saw the new building. From time to time she had hoped to pay another visit to Cambridge when she was stronger in health.

“Referring to ‘Miss Buss’ earliest attempts to start the training college,’ Dr. Ward writes saying how he remembers the regularity of her attendance at the earlier meetings of the committee, and ‘her anxiety to get Newnham and Girton interested.’ She brought 285the scheme for the college before the Head-mistress’ Association, secured their interest and an arrangement by which a representative on the college council was to be appointed by them. Miss Conolly for several years was the representative.”

Miss Hughes adds some interesting memories of the help given by Miss Buss and Miss Clough, as she says—

“One of the most useful parts of my education at Cambridge was the opportunity of talking over this educational experiment with these pioneers. I shall never forget their patience under the difficulties that were always springing up, their wise foresight to prevent such difficulties, their earnest desire not to make unnecessary enemies, and, at the same time, their persistent intention to carry out the experiment. I remember the wonderful insight into character which Miss Buss showed, and how quick she was to note the strength and value of each additional member of the committee. She had her own views, clear and definite, and for some of them she was ready to fight; but she was quite reasonable and ready to be persuaded that the special conditions of Cambridge required special arrangements. When a beginning at last seemed possible my heart so failed me that I felt unfit for the post, and had almost decided not to apply for it. Miss Buss came from London to talk it over, and I then realized how much her heart was set on the scheme, and how much she had thought about it.... When we began, Miss Buss came often to see us, keenly interested in all our doings and in the many and great difficulties that tried even my optimism. I should certainly have given up in despair but for her help and advice....

“I have found few persons, few women especially, who are capable of seeing a subject in its right perspective, grasping its fundamental points and being full of enthusiasm, but without spending time and energy in elaborating its details. Miss Buss had this unusual power to an unusual extent, and, in addition to this, she had a strong interest in details when they were brought before her notice. I was struck with the marked difference between her treatment of work for which she was responsible and that in which she was interested but not finally responsible. In her own school she was not only interested in every detail, but felt herself responsible for it. Sometimes, indeed, those who loved her wished that she could have realized that her own strength and energy were far more valuable to the school than were the details on which 286these were spent. On the other hand, I think one of the best lessons she ever taught me was the vast importance of looking after every detail one’s self. Her attitude towards our own college was quite different; and, interested as she was in every detail, however small, she always seemed to realize the two or three important points which must never be lost sight of, and to be perfectly willing to allow others to settle the detail. I mention this because it was suggested to me when she helped to start this college that she was so accustomed to be responsible for every detail in her own large institution that she would probably wish to exercise the same management in our college. Nothing could be further from the truth, for she always knew the line beyond which help and suggestion ceased to be real help....

“The college, however poor in one sense, is rich in memories of her interest in it. She made so many visits in early days, chatted with the students, sent us books and pictures, and loved us and believed in us with a love and faith which will go far to make us what she hoped we might become!

“What I owe to her personally I cannot put into words. Her belief in me was a constant inspiration, and her love for me a constant comfort. My life is infinitely richer because I have known and loved her, and I am hoping to pay interest on the heavy debt I owe her by holding out occasionally a helping hand to other teachers.

“I often think that we cannot yet realize the vast difference it has made to our development of secondary education for girls that our pioneers were large-hearted, unselfish women like Miss Buss, Miss Clough, and Miss Davies. We are passing on to new times and new difficulties, having lost many of the old leaders, but the memory of their wise words and brave deeds is still with us, and I do not think that English teachers will ever forget the life of Frances Mary Buss.”

Note.—At the opening of the new buildings of the Cambridge Teachers’ College, by the Marquis of Ripon, on October 19, 1895, fullest recognition was given by all the speakers to Miss Buss’ share in the origination of this work. The ceremony began by the planting of trees to the memory of Miss Buss and of Miss Clough, by the Rev. S. Buss and Miss B. A. Clough; followed by the “Hymn of Work,” which has for motto—

“We work not for school, but for life;
We toil not for time, but for eternity.”



“Works are no more than animate faith and love.”


In spite of the heavy demands of her own special duties, Miss Buss found time for much public work in which to use her large experience.

She always knew exactly what she was doing and what she intended to do. In the expressive colloquialism, she was “all there,” and she was always there. Whatever she knew she knew well, putting it in its own place, ready for use. The half-knowledge, with its consequent mental vagueness, that contents most of us was impossible to a mind so clear and strong.

And she knew her own limitations, never professing to go beyond. When we remember how wonderfully vivid her imagination really was, we are surprised that it could so be held in leash. In art she gave it free play; and also in history—the story of human life which is the subject of art—she could let herself go. We who knew her in Rome could never question her power of imagination.

In Italy, she not only found but she used her wings. Elsewhere, her imagination found fullest scope in glorifying common things; in seeing through the commonplace, thus consecrating common duties, and calling out the best and highest in common persons—possibly 288a form of genius more rare than that which can turn out fine verse or fine pictures.

Here is a list of work which it overwhelms the average mortal merely to contemplate. But wherever she found herself she worked, and nothing that she undertook to do was left undone.

Miss Buss was a governor as well as founder of her own schools.

She was president and one of the founders of the Head-mistresses’ Association.

She was on the council, and on three committees of the Teachers’ Guild, of which she was a founder.

She was on the council of—

The Cheltenham Ladies’ College,
The Church Schools’ Company,
The Maria Grey Training College for Teachers,
The Cambridge Training College for Teachers,
The Royal Drawing College,
The Woman’s Branch of Swanley Horticultural College.

She was a governor of—

University College, London,
Milton Mount College,
Aberdare Hall,
West Ham Girls’ School,
Grey Coat School, Westminster,
Sarah Bonnell School,
London School of Medicine, and was also on the
Committee of the National Health Society.

As well as an associate of—

College for Working Women,
London Pupil Teachers’ Association,
University Association for Women Teachers,
Art for Schools Association, and of the
Somerville Club.

She was interested in—

The London Institution,
Governesses’ Benevolent Institution.

Foremost among later works must come the Teachers’ Guild, of which the first origin is due to Miss Buss. Like 289most things undertaken for or by women, it began on the strictly practical or economic side; though it now embraces the highest ideals of educational possibilities. It is now devoted to securing the best conditions on which the teacher can best grow; but the first start had to deal with the question how the teacher might live at all.

And as we found the germ of all the higher education for girls in the “Report of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution,” we find ourselves going back to that Report for the origin of the Guild which aims at the highest development of the teacher.

Governesses, as a class, come to poverty and dependence not from extravagance or self-indulgence, but from sheer self-sacrifice, in unselfish devotion to the claims of relatives, and to no class is thrift more difficult. The effort to make it possible was from the first one of the leading impulses of Miss Buss’ work. As early as 1866, a letter from Dr. Hodgson shows that she had then discussed the subject with him—

... “You may remember the tenor of my remarks in Camden Street on the ‘Reports of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution.’ When I spoke of saving for one’s self, I wished merely to give, for completeness’ sake, the other side of your phrase ‘saving from our friends.’ The duty and advantage of saving are common to both sexes. Individual cases might be dealt with, or judged, according to circumstances; but the general doctrine must be preached without reserve.

“It would be much nearer my notion to say: ‘Earn sixpence a day (if you cannot earn more), and save out of it a penny, or, if that be not possible, then a halfpenny, or if that be not possible, then a farthing. In any amount, however small, let the claims of the future be recognized.... Let the general duty and wisdom of saving be taught and recognized. Then let the needful allowances be made in individual cases. It may be more meritorious, because more difficult, for one person to save £5 than for another to save £500. Let each judge himself as he would another.”

290No subject was more constantly present to Miss Buss’ mind, but no practical steps were taken till, on December 2, 1881, the Women’s Education Union appointed a special committee to consider the question of establishing a Teachers’ Provident Association, of which Miss Buss was a member, with Mr. G. C. T. Bartley, Mr. Rowland Hamilton, and Mr. Shaen; Mrs. Burbury acting as honorary secretary.

In 1882, a plan was submitted to the Head-mistresses’ Association, of which Miss Buss thus writes to me—

“Our Provident Association is not yet started, but I do not despair. A lady is at work getting up figures, and if all is well in October, we shall go at it again. By ‘we’ I mean the Association of Head-mistresses. We want a sensational article for our Provident movement. Will you write it? I mean, we want the fact of death in the workhouse, misery known to the Ladies’ Guild, etc., brought out.”

As member of one of the Relief Committees of the Working Ladies’ Guild—a society founded by Lady Mary Feilding for the help of distressed gentlewomen—I had heard much of the sufferings of governesses, and had discussed with Miss Buss the best ways of giving relief. At her request, I now wrote a paper on “Thrift for Teachers,” in which I suggested some co-operation between the Ladies’ Guild and “some possible Guild of Teachers.” This paper appeared in November, 1882, in Miss L. M. Hubbard’s Work and Leisure, a magazine containing the germ of many now important works. In August, 1881, Miss Hubbard had published a paper on “Co-operation among Governesses,” which was followed, in December, by a meeting to consider the scheme finally taking form as the “Women Teachers’ Self-Help Society”; with a Provident Fund and Free Registry.

Miss Hubbard suggested printing off some copies 291of my paper, which Miss Buss circulated among the School-mistresses’ and Head-mistresses’ Associations; but no immediate practical results followed, nor did anything come of a consultation with Mr. Heller to consider amalgamation with his Provident Association of Elementary Teachers.

It was not till December 1 that Miss Buss wrote—

“I think something might come of the notion of the ‘Guild.’ The only thing is that it does not seem sufficiently definite and practical.... We have secured the services of a very able woman, Miss Beth Finlay, as lecturer on ‘Savings.’ She is ready to take the matter up as soon as we shall have arrived at some conclusion.”

On February 7, 1883, a small preliminary meeting was held in the Library of the North London Collegiate School, of which Miss Buss writes on January 26—

“I saw Miss Ward of the Training College on Wednesday, and find that she is very anxious about a Provident Scheme. She also thinks well of the Teachers’ Guild Movement. She suggests that we should hold a very small meeting of a few earnest persons. Will you be able to come, and suggest some names of those whom you think we might ask?”

The ladies present at this meeting were Miss Buss, Miss Metcalfe, Miss Agnes J. Ward, Miss Dunlop, Miss Hodge, Miss Rouquette, Miss Townsend, the Misses Ridley. Some others were invited who were unable to be present.

From the minutes taken on this occasion, I find that Miss Buss read a report which had been presented to the Head-mistresses’ Association, and discussion followed on each point of this report. It was finally agreed that the Provident and the Aid Societies must be kept apart.

The name was changed to that of “Teachers’ Provident Guild.” A committee was formed of the persons 292then present, and Miss Jenny Rundell was proposed by Miss Ward as honorary secretary, with the address of the Training College, then in Skinner Street.

On March 12, 1883, Miss Buss writes—

“At a committee meeting of the Head-mistresses’ Association held last Thursday it was resolved to establish a Teachers’ Guild, the objects of which were to be—

(1) To provide mutual help and sympathy.

(2) To maintain a high standard of moral and mental education.

(3) To encourage provision for sickness and old age, and to found Homes of Rest and Associated Homes.

(4) To assist teachers in obtaining situations.”

This action was confirmed on March 16th, at a meeting of the School-Mistresses’ Association, when Miss Agnes J. Ward read her paper on the “Principles and Practice of Thrift among Teachers.” At this meeting a sub-committee was formed to establish the Teachers’ Guild.

The Guild was definitely organized at the Conference of Head-mistresses, held in June, 1883, at Croydon, when Miss Hadland, Head-mistress of Milton Mount College, offered her services as honorary secretary, if the purposes of the Guild might be widened by the omission of the word “Provident.” Miss Hadland also secured the use of an office in the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, lent by her friend the Rev. R. J. Verrall. The clerical work was done at Milton Mount College, with the assistance of the Rev. R. Guest.

A provisional committee met fortnightly, working out the constitution of the Guild, till, on February 23, 1884, the inaugural meeting was held in the rooms of the Society of Arts, with the Right Hon. A. J. Mundella in the chair, and with an attendance of the leading educationalists, whose interest had been excited in the new work.

293At this meeting, Mr. Storr stated that he—

“thought it only right that the names should be given of the two ladies to whom mainly this movement owes its initiative. One is Miss Buss—not only the doyenne of head-mistresses, but the mother of us all—I mean of us ‘Brethren of the Guild.’ To Miss Buss’ energy all the earlier results are due before the accession of Miss Hadland as honorary secretary, of whom it may be said that without her unwearied labours during these eight months this meeting could not have been held.”

Miss Hadland resigned her post as honorary secretary to Mr. Jocelyn De Morgan, who was appointed secretary, in the new rooms taken for the Guild at 1, Adam Street, Adelphi. He was followed by Mr. Garrod, at 19, Buckingham Street, and in the present office, 74, Gower Street.

With the appointment of Canon Percival as president of the Guild, Miss Buss and Miss Hadland retired from public view, but for some time they continued to exert a very strong influence. Miss Buss was especially active in the appointment of the secretaries, making full inquiry before proposing the candidate, as she had very high ideas of the qualifications for this office. The value of the Guild in raising the professional aspect of teaching soon became evident to her, and she omitted nothing that could work to this end.

The same feeling for struggling teachers that led to the formation of the Teachers’ Guild moved Miss Buss in the origination of the “Teachers’ Loan Society.” The idea itself seems to come from Miss Beale, who thus refers to it in a letter to Miss Buss, dated November 26, 1882—

“I have not yet had time to give the loan system a fair trial, but I have no doubt of its success.... I think there should be such a society attached to every large school, and a small number—say, a triumvirate—should administer the funds. We have 294assisted five now.... I do hope something will be done to establish some such system. It is so much better morally than gifts and scholarships, as it makes the pupils think of their responsibilities.”

Miss Buss enlisted Miss Ewart’s interest in the scheme, and a committee was formed consisting at first of Miss Buss, Miss Ewart, Mrs. Stair-Douglas, Mrs. Hertz, Mrs. Fitch, Mrs. Dockar-Drysdale, and myself. Miss Ewart became honorary secretary, mainly supplying the loan-fund, and to the present time has devoted herself to this work, proving effectually that the “amateur” can be thoroughly business-like, and that a very large amount of most useful work can be done in perfect silence, known only to those who have reaped the benefit of it.

Every educational work seemed to enlist Miss Buss’ help, as we find that, from 1865, she was a frequent visitor at the Working Women’s College, founded by Miss Martin.

As early as 1869, Dr. Hodgson gauged Miss Buss’ powers, and determined to use them in a sphere wider than her own work. He wrote to her as follows—

My dear Miss Buss,

“I have a great favour to ask from you, though it affects your own sex more than it does me. I wish your consent to be nominated on the Council of Preceptors. The meetings, as you will observe from the card enclosed, are only eight in the year, and all these need not be attended. But no lady has ever yet been on the council, and some of us are determined to break through the barrier of custom which obstructs the doorway left open by the constitution of the council. You will have a large and powerful support, and success is almost certain, even at the first attempt.

“This will be a battle worth fighting. I have written to every member of the council whom I have thought at all accessible to reason, and every answer is favourable. Now, I confidently reckon on your passive support. You are not required either to labour, or to wait, at least beyond the 11th inst., when the election will 295take place. Your consent is all that is needed, and I am sure, for the sake of the principle involved, you will not withhold it.”

“Dec. 16, 1869.

“You would see from the papers that you were elected on the council. Though you come after the three gentlemen on the list, you came before them in the voting. You had fourteen votes, each of them had only twelve.”

In 1871, apropos to a deputation from the College of Preceptors, Dr. Hodgson again writes—

My dear Miss Buss,

“I am very sorry that you are in such a chaos. I think it extremely important that the claims of women to equality of recognition in all education should be kept in view. They are too apt to be forgotten by even those who are in principle favourable, so inveterate is the inequity, i.e. iniquity, of English practice in this respect. Your presence on the deputation will be a valuable protest as regards both the existence of the claims themselves and the fact of their being recognized by educational bodies. The nail must be struck on the head again, and again, and again. Wonderful has been the advance already made, but the battle is very far from being already won.

“Yours ever truly,

W. B. Hodgson.”

In 1873, Miss Buss sent me a letter from Mr. Christie, proposing to elect her a Life-governor of University College, in which she adds—

“Could you write to Mr. Christie in such a way as to answer his question about my ‘services to education’?

“I cannot well see my way to a fair estimate of my own work. At all events, it is easier for some one else to estimate it for me.”

Her own letter to Mr. Christie may be given—

“202, Camden Road, Dec. 5, 1873.

Dear Mr. Christie,

“I fully see the principle you desire to assert by proposing me as a Life-governor of University College, and I shall 296be very grateful, not only for the honour conferred on me, if I am elected, but also for the great impetus which would be given to women’s education, by such a recognition. University College has been, of late years, so liberal to women that I trust the opposition to such a course as you propose would be less than formerly.

“I send you a pamphlet containing a sketch of the origin of our two schools, but as we have made much progress since it was written, and it is difficult for me to put a fair estimate on my own share of the success, I have asked one of our lady trustees to give you an estimate. I am sure you will shortly hear from her.

“With many thanks,

“Believe me,

Frances M. Buss.”

At the end of 1894, when Lord Reay “deplored the loss of many distinguished members of the college,” Miss Buss’ name appears in a very notable list, including Lord Bowen, Lord Hannen, Sir Henry Layard, Professor Henry Morley, Sir J. R. Seeley, and Professor Romanes.

In early days, the pressure of her own work, and in later days, the state of her health, often prevented Miss Buss from appearing in public. Here are two out of many invitations declined with regret on this account—

“Faversham, Sept. 24, 1871.

Dear Miss Buss,

“I begged Miss Ridley to tell you that I had not ventured to express our very great wish that you might be present at the Education Conference at Norwich, but I take courage now to ask, if it is impossible for you to go, whether you would send any written message or statement referring to any point you most wish to draw attention to yourself. Miss Beale has sent us a most excellent paper, giving her views on School Organization in the form of an account of her college and its work. We hope there will be an earnest discussion of educational topics, and if you would take part in it by writing, if not in person, you would greatly enhance the value of the conference. I do not know if Miss Ridley or Miss 297Gurney is going, but, faute de mieux, I need not say how glad I should be to read any communication of yours.

“I do not yet know on what day our conference is to be. It will form part of the work of the Education Section of the congress.

“Ever truly yours,

Emily A. Shirreff.”

“Queen’s College, Oxford,
“July 7, 1893.

My dear Miss Buss,

“I am desired by the committee appointed to carry out the arrangements for the Conference on Secondary Education to request you to be so kind as to prepare and read, or cause to be read, the paper on Schools for Girls (Higher and Second Grade) at the first session....

“My wife and I will be very much pleased if you will give us the pleasure of entertaining you during such time as you may be in Oxford during the conference.

“I am,

“Yours very truly,

J. R. Magrath.”

Mrs. Bryant, who represented her on this occasion, speaks of the great regret felt by Miss Buss in declining what would have been a crowning pleasure in her life. She could, however, take a very real satisfaction in the enjoyment of her substitute. Still more to be regretted was her inability to take her place on the Second Royal Commission of Inquiry into Secondary Education, a place filled, in consequence, by Mrs. Bryant.

The last invitation for public work that she was able to accept was from Mrs. Fawcett—

Royal Commission on Women’s Work.
“Education Sub-committee, 2, Gower Street,
“July 18, 1892.

Dear Miss Buss,

“The Education Sub-committee met here on Thursday last, and it was unanimously resolved to beg you to become a 298member of it. We do not meet very often, and do not propose to meet now till after the holidays. We would endeavour to suit the day and time to your convenience, if you are good enough to consent to join us.

“The present members of the committee are myself, Miss M. Gurney, Miss Kingsley, Miss Louisa Stevenson, Miss Flora Stevenson, Miss R. Davenport-Hill, and Miss Tod.

“Up to the present we have had only two meetings, and if you are good enough to join us, I would send you up our minutes, that you may see what our short history has been. We should all greatly value your counsel and co-operation. If there are any questions you would like to ask as to the work of the sub-committee I shall be very pleased to come and see you at any time convenient to yourself next Saturday.

“Yours very truly,

M. G. Fawcett.”

This sub-committee received from the Royal Commission £100 to send a representative to report on American education, as shown at Chicago and elsewhere, and appointed Miss Hughes of the Cambridge Training College for Teachers. Five other ladies went with Gilchrist Scholarships for the same sum, and eight with Scholarships from the City Companies of fifty guineas each. Among the latter was Miss Sara A. Burstall, an old pupil and present member of the staff of the North London Collegiate School for Girls.

The work connected with this committee was very pleasant to Miss Buss, and she was able to attend many of the meetings. She was also able to be at the concluding reception, when Mrs. Fawcett and Miss Gurney entertained those who had taken part in it. This was the last public occasion on which Miss Buss was present, but Miss Gurney was struck with her enjoyment and energy, in spite of her too-evident failure in health.

In medical education for women she was from the first full of interest, as well as in the allied branch of 299trained nursing. There is some animated correspondence with Mrs. Grey, in which the question of women medical inspectors of the girls’ gymnasiums is discussed, Mrs. Grey not seeing her way to it in the Company’s schools. But, as soon as it was possible, Miss Buss had secured this supervision, of so much value in the case of delicate girls. Miss Julia Cock, M.D., now holds the post at first occupied by Mrs. Hoggan, M.D.

Mrs. Garrett-Anderson, M.D., was for several years a member of the governing body of the North London Collegiate Schools for Girls, elected as one of the representatives of the Brewers’ Company. She pays affectionate tribute to the memory of a friend of many years, as she says—

“There are very few people whose memory I would wish so much to honour as I do Miss Buss’, and it is a real distress to me not to be free to be present on Monday.

“It is difficult to say how much all who care for the uplifting of women owe to her, both as a pioneer and in her splendid work as a school-mistress. I hope and believe that her name will long be cherished and honoured.”

Mrs. Thorne, also among medical pioneers, speaks strongly too—

“She has been such a good friend to women that all will feel her loss, more particularly those who had the privilege of her personal friendship. From time to time, in the course of the past fifty years, I have been in occasional contact with her, and, though so many had far greater claims upon her interest than I, I always knew that I could turn to her as a good friend if necessary. She was one of the earliest supporters of the medical education of women, and was one of the governors of the London School of Medicine for Women.”

The question of the employment of women was one that touched Miss Buss more closely than any other, since the needs of women was the very mainspring of 300her efforts in education. Any opening that would attract the girls not fitted for teaching was sure of her support. Here is a note, dated March 11, 1875, of interest at the present date—

“A new department is about to be created in the Post-office. It is to consist entirely of ladies by birth and education, who will have to pass an examination in (1) handwriting and orthography, (2) English, (3) arithmetic, and (4) geography. Thirty ladies are to be nominated as quickly as possible, out of whom ten will be selected as first-class clerks, with a beginning salary of £80 per annum.

“Would this be of the least use to your friend? If so, there is no time to be lost.”

The placing of women on the School Board and on Boards of Guardians enlisted most active co-operation from Miss Buss from the earliest days of such movements. In her busiest times she could always arrange for a drawing-room meeting, and much canvassing work was arranged at Myra Lodge, on the occasion of the first School Board elections. Every one who can remember those days will recall the excitement and enthusiasm with which she greeted the arrival of the post-card with the announcement—

Garrett 47,558
Huxley 13,494

The elections of Miss Davies, Miss Chessar, Miss Garrett, and Mrs. Maitland on the School Board, and of Lady Lothian, Miss Andrews, and Miss Lidgett on the St. Pancras Board of Guardians, were events that made the “seventies” stirring times for women. And in this stir Miss Buss came very much to the front. She never could make a speech in public herself, but she was the cause of many speeches that were made then and since then.

301Like so many of the most thoughtful women-leaders, Miss Buss placed the Suffrage Question in the forefront of things likely to help the position and moral power of women. She saw no discrepancy between the possession of a vote and the development of the domestic virtues; and she believed that the possession of power would tend to make women worthy to use it, in opposition to the other view that it may be well to educate them for this use before giving it. We used often to argue this matter, as I inclined to the latter view, though I could not be blind to the utter absurdity of refusing to such women as Frances Mary Buss the power given to the most illiterate or debased peasant.

In politics, Miss Buss was led by her heart, as most women will be to the end of time, being the missing factor that will, in the good days coming, redeem and raise political life from its present depths. This woman was inevitably on the side of Progress and Reform, and being herself too wise to even imagine unwisdom, might easily have been led too far where her sympathies were touched; as, for example, on the Home Rule question, into which she threw herself with all the ardour with which in her youth she had followed the Anti-Slavery movement in America, and, later in life, the War of Italian Unity.

Here is a little story told by one of her friends, which is very characteristic—

“She liked us for being in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. One night, at Myra Lodge, she sounded me on my political views. I tried to evade her questions, and said I feared my views would be unpalatable to her (she looked, to my thinking, like a Tory). When, after much pressure, I said, to show how bad I was, ‘Well, Miss Buss, if you must know, then I approve of Home Rule!’ she skipped over the room like a girl of seventeen, to Mrs. Bryant, and said, in delighted tones, ‘Mrs. Bryant, Mr. —— is a Home Ruler!’ and brought her over to me. It was delightful to see her pleasure!”

302It was not delightful to refuse her that pleasure by not responding sufficiently to her enthusiasm, much as I, for one, would have liked to do so. But it made no difference whether one quite said as she did, or not; for she might have suggested those words of George Eliot’s: “That seems to me very great and noble—the power of respecting a feeling one does not share or understand.” In all discussions it was hers “gently to hear, kindly to judge.” For real tolerance it would have been as difficult to match her as in the strength and vigour with which she maintained her own ground. That she was loyal to England if tender to Ireland her words to her nephew show, when she says—

“Sept. 24, 1891.

“Are you coming with your choir to the Naval Exhibition? Naval recruiting has gone up twenty per cent. since the opening of this exhibition! I have paid a second visit, and am more than ever proud and thankful to be an Englishwoman. We are, indeed—in spite of our many sins—a great nation, the greatest on earth.”

Whilst firmly centred at home, her sympathies still widened out to all the world. Miss E. A. Manning writes on this point—

“As illustrating the wide sympathies of Miss Buss outside her effective and concentrated work, I am glad to have the opportunity of referring to the friendly interest she showed in regard to the visits to this country of students from India. To such as desired to see the working of the North London Collegiate School she gave warm welcome; and, whenever she was able, she attended the soirées of the National Indian Association, entering with a most kindly spirit into their object, that of promoting intercourse and mutual knowledge between individuals of different races. Naturally the progress of Indian women especially attracted her attention, and she liked to take occasions of bringing it to the notice of her pupils. In 1885 Miss Buss (with the permission of the governors of the school) arranged for a meeting, in the Great Hall, of the 303National Indian Association, where Mr. M. M. Bhownaggree, C.I.E., read a comprehensive paper on the ‘Conditions and Prospects of the Education of Indian Women,’ and we were afterwards hospitably entertained by her in the gymnasium. At a later date I gave an address at an ‘old pupils’ meeting’ upon ‘Home Life and Customs in India.’

“I may add that when Mr. Soubramanyam, of Madras, now a very successful barrister, came to England, accompanied by his wife (who was almost the first Indian lady to venture on such an undertaking), Miss Buss made their acquaintance, and they have always remembered her friendly attentions during their three years’ stay here. The fact that many of her pupils had taken up medical and educational work in India, and had temporarily settled there, tended to strengthen her interest in the conditions of life in that country; but I was constantly struck by her full, free recognition of all efforts for good, even though she had not time nor opportunity to enter into the practical details of such efforts. Her sympathetic encouragement, as well as her example, inspired many with hopefulness and persistence.”

She was greatly interested in the Peace Society, and did much to promote the formation of a woman’s auxiliary of that society, first suggested at a meeting held on June 2, 1873, at the house of my father, when Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, of Boston, spoke, with Professor J. R. Seeley in the chair. My father had offered a prize of £5 for the best essay written by Miss Buss’ pupils, and won by Miss Edith Kemp.

In the following year, Miss Buss was at home, on June 2, “to the friends of the Woman’s Peace Movement,” and a paper was read by Miss Bennett, “On the Best Way for Women to use their Influence to prevent War.” A resolution was adopted to the effect that “the meeting forms itself into a local committee in connection with (or in support of) the Peace Society.”

In reference to this meeting, Miss Buss has written—

“We certainly should form ourselves into a branch committee, and local, as Mrs. Southey (the honorary secretary) lives on the 304other side of the water. If many were formed, we might have a grand meeting of all the branches, once a year, at St. James’ Hall.

“I think it better to strengthen existing organizations than to start new ones. I like your leaflet.”

The meetings of the branch went on for several years, and then, for want of support, it came to an end.

Temperance was another subject in which she took increasing interest, as it came more directly before her in the work of the Rev. Septimus Buss and his energetic wife, so well known in Shoreditch. Miss Buss became practically an abstainer, and the subject was brought before the old pupils on more than one occasion. Miss Frances Willard received an enthusiastic welcome at one of these meetings, and a note to her shows the feeling of the head-mistress—

“Myra Lodge, Jan., 1893.

Dear Miss Willard,

“As one of the many Englishwomen who have long known and admired your great work in the United States, I send you a hearty greeting.

“I felt it a great privilege to be personally introduced to you, and only regret that the necessity of rest during the holidays has prevented me from attending some of the large meetings called to do honour to you as a teacher and a leader in the great cause of temperance.

“Believe me,

“Very faithfully yours,

Frances M. Buss.”

From the nature of her own work, Miss Buss was unable to take any active part in the work of Mrs. Josephine Butler, Miss Ellice Hopkins and others, for the promotion of a higher standard of morals; but her sympathy was with every wise effort in this direction, and, in several instances, when her head disapproved the means used, her heart went out to the sufferer from 305rash but well-meant endeavours. I can recall the intense feeling with which she told me of the direct action of the Queen in relation to a well-known case of this kind. Of such sympathy Mrs. Percy Bunting speaks warmly—

“How much she has done in her life, and with how true and loyal a spirit! She has always been so high in tone, and courageous, and generous-hearted, and warm in friendship. She has always lived a noble life, and we women owe her in particular a debt of gratitude. She has taken a broad view of what was needed, and has used her influence all along the line, as it were, for the welfare of women.

“And now she rests in God. Renewed and enlarged, she will in some way realize what she hoped and prayed for here. I think her example and influence have left a good harvest, as it is. As women look back, they will always feel that she was one who helped their cause in the days of its unpopularity. And she has her reward.”

All workers among the poor know her helpfulness, and strong testimony comes especially from the clergy of Holy Trinity. But the best must always remain untold, as being associated with the deepest life of those helped. In London, in the midst of her busy life, she could not give much of personal effort or time to the very poor, though she could and did give sympathy, as well as substantial help, without stint. But at Boscombe she could use her leisure as she pleased, and Miss Edwards, who during her long residence with her knew her life intimately, gives us a little glimpse of her there—

“It is largely owing to the fact that Miss Buss lived up to what she taught, morally and spiritually, that she has been such a power in so many hundreds of lives. She was so generous and kind-hearted, always ready to help others to help themselves. At her country cottage she would regularly send, and occasionally take with her own hands, relief in various forms to those who needed it.”

306A story of her consideration for her old cabman has already been given, but a very recent sequel may be added, as showing how Downes’ own feeling went on after his death to his successor, who recently took the opportunity, in recognizing an old “Myra girl,” to lead up to a talk about Miss Buss, ending by his saying, “They do say there’s as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it, but we shall wait long enough for another like that!”

Also, at the funeral, an old pupil, who could not get into the church for the press, heard one of the crowd remark, “If all funerals were like this, every one could not be buried!” To which a poor woman responded, “If everybody was as good as that good woman, earth would be heaven, and no one would need to be buried!”

In addition to all that she did accomplish Miss Buss had dreams that failed of realization for want of time and strength. Here is one, of which we often talked, though circumstances were too strong against our action in the matter—

“When you and I can have a talk, I want to suggest to you the beginning, on a small scale, of an orphanage, like Miss Haddon’s. You and J. might adopt it? I should want you to let me throw the force of our school into it, making clothes, helping the outfits, finding places, etc. Surely, too, we could find some volunteer teachers among the old pupils? We might always notice it in our magazine, too, and so make friends for it. I feel honestly that, at present, I could not undertake the responsibility, though I would help as much as I could.

“What say you? Do not set it aside without thought. You and your parents do so much already that it would only be concentrating your efforts. A little house and a good matron are wanted. I think my dear cousin would take an interest in it, and let the girls have some training, as servants, in my house.”




“The habit of viewing things cheerfully, and of thinking about life hopefully, may be made to grow up in us, like any other habit.”

Those who never saw Miss Buss in real holiday mood could not be said to know her at all. As an educationalist she was instructive, admirable, awe-inspiring; but as a friend and companion attractive, captivating, lovable. She talked “education” where she thought her hearers were interested, and this subject always interested herself. Also, she often went on little educational missions of advice or instruction, and then poured out of her full stores very freely. But such occasions were not holidays. When she took holiday, she took it thoroughly, and those who joined her holiday parties all speak of them as Miss Hickey speaks of one which we enjoyed together—

“I had met Miss Buss before, but the first time I really knew her was when we spent that Christmas at Clifton with her and you and Mrs. Bryant and Miss Emma Elford and Mr. Frank Buss. And since then I have even felt that no one could have truly known her who had never been with her ‘out of school,’ and I have been very glad to have then laid the foundation of a true friendship with so great and noble a woman.

“Most people know of her remarkable power as an organizer; of her intense interest in her work; of her high conscientiousness; of her openness to new ideas, and readiness to give a fair test to 310new methods; but few people are aware of the power she had of throwing off the school-mistress, and of not only entering into interests completely apart from educational ones, but of entering into them with an unconsciousness of her position, and an ignoring of what she had done.”

This stay at Clifton was memorable to me in my discovery of Miss Buss as a housekeeper. She managed for all the party—indeed, I do not think any one of us could possibly have ventured on arrangements or other management while she was there to do it. Her readiness, skill, and economy made a deep impression on us.

On another occasion, years later, she came as our guest to my sister and myself at Torquay. Up to Christmas we had revelled in sunshine, driving every day in an open carriage, and to this we invited her; also choosing for her the room with the finest view. But she came for a week of fog, such (so we were told) as Torquay had never before known. We had one or two misty drives, and the view was rarely visible. But she took it as it came with placid sweetness, working, reading, or talking, and was the least exacting guest we had ever known. And, afterwards, she could only recall the fact of complete restfulness, forgetting that there had been a fog.

Here is a note by Miss Crane to the same effect—

“Twice we all joined her summer holiday—once at La Bourboule, and another time at Schlangenbad. I remember how she used to enter into the pleasure and fun of our little afternoon teaparties, given alternately by her party and ours, each vying with the other in making the most of our limited paraphernalia. And how she enjoyed the German custom of taking meals al fresco on every possible occasion, in spite of gnats and other buzzing insects! She was always quick to see and enter into fun, taking pains to enlighten those whose perceptions were less keen. Her hearty laugh filled one with joy.”

The same thing is given in greater detail by Miss Bird, who says—

311“I had known Miss Buss for years, and always felt attracted to her, but I never knew her in her unreserved moods until that visit to Kissingen, in 1882. We were all up in the morning betimes, and used to meet on the Parade to drink the waters. There were some wonderful bread-stalls, with an astonishing variety of fancy breads and innocent cakes, where we bought bread for our breakfast, and also laid in a stock for afternoon tea. We were a party of eight, and we used to take turns in giving each other tea. When it came to Miss Buss’ turn to entertain, she used to take pains to select her cakes, that we all felt eclipsed. We called her ‘ostentatious,’ and ‘vulgar,’ and ‘low,’ and she rippled with merriment, and seemed to enjoy being treated as an ordinary human being. She was taking ‘mud baths’—that look as formidable and ugly as they sound—a sort of peat mixture that is supposed to draw from the body all its aches and pains. I had seen in a window the picture of a woman emerging from her ‘mud,’ and when Miss Buss was fractious, and made excuses for not joining in the light frivolities of the place, I used to say, ‘Well, if you refuse, I will post that picture to the College to be exhibited, and the pupils will then see the degradation of Miss Buss!’ This threat acted like magic, and, laughing heartily, she used to comply. She grew bright and light-hearted, and contributed her full share of amusing stories.”

Miss E. P. Hughes records another of these times of relaxation—

“I spent a Christmas holiday with her at Cannes. She knew that I had travelled little at that time, and she stopped at Avignon, Nîmes, and Arles, to show me some of the old Roman antiquities. Her energy and intense interest in everything was simply wonderful. I had chiefly seen the educational side of her life before this, and it was a revelation to me that she knew so much and cared so much for other things. I am a fairly good traveller myself, and keen about seeing new places, but I confess myself completely beaten over and over again. I do not think that many people realize the enormous amount of work she got through, so much of it being unknown except to a few.... She was always ready to enjoy a laugh. I can see her now, sitting in the great amphitheatre at Nîmes, enjoying my discomfiture when I discovered that, through my ignorance of South French patois, I had mistaken our guide’s description of a Sunday bull-fight for a meeting of the Salvation Army! At Arles I was severely bitten by the love of Roman 312antiquities, and while I was expressing this, in very Celtic fashion, Miss Buss said she must take me to Rome some day, and laughingly gave me permission to be as mad as I liked.

“I am glad to remember how happy she was at Cannes, how keenly she noticed all the beauties of nature, how warmly she enjoyed our delight in what was new to us, how sweetly gracious she was to acquaintances in the hotel. I learnt then for the first time to know what a wonderful power of description she had, as she told me about her visits to Italy, and much about modern Italian history, describing several eventful scenes witnessed by herself. I can see the pictures vividly now which she painted in words. I remember being surprised at the extent of her reading, and then realized that she herself was so humble that, until one knew her well, one was apt to underrate her.”

Miss Buss’ intimates all fell into the habit of keeping for her joke-book—a book from which she loved to read on any possible occasion—any choice bit of wit or humour, to reap double pleasure in so sharing it. She had that strong sense of the ridiculous which so often goes with the keenly sensitive temperament, and which is so essential to perfect balance of character. Without this quick perception of the incongruous there must be a want of true perspective in life, with failure in the right adjustment of the claims of self and of others. Very great work can scarcely be done without this gift, since of all others it most tends to complete sanity—to the sound mind, if not to the sound body—without which no greatest work is ever done. The intense temperament, lacking this guiding sense, is almost certain to show some warp or twist fatal to the finest achievement.

To this most helpful power of turning from grave to gay Miss Buss certainly owed much of her power of sustained work. At the end of a term, she was able, as she so often said, “to lock all her worries up in a drawer, and leave them there.” She then gave herself up to her holiday with all her strength, enjoying with keen zest all new places and persons, and returning from her 313travels rested and refreshed. It is true that her notion of rest differed not a little from that of average mortals, who sometimes felt it something of a strain to keep pace with energy so inexhaustible. She would beguile a long railway journey with some stiff reading—very much of her reading was done in railway carriages—and, on reaching her destination, after a few hours’ sleep en route, be quite fresh for a day’s sight-seeing, in which little was left unseen that merited notice. She lived to the full in the present moment, and thus made the most of life, having learnt to leave the past behind her, and to wait in hope for the future.

Several members of the staff speak with the same interest of the holiday parties, and of the value attached by Miss Buss to the complete change of thought given by foreign travel, quoting her frequent saying: “Do not run in one groove!” as she exhorted her young teachers “to save up for a trip abroad.”[19] She planned and arranged parties in France, Germany, and Italy, for her teachers and their friends, where they might take language lessons part of their time, and for the rest, go on expeditions for “thorough” sight-seeing. And here, Miss Elford adds—

19.  Miss Hughes speaks to this point: “On two occasions I went with her to see some famous Roman schools, as well as by her advice to Naples, to see the wonderful school of Madame du Portugal. It was a great pleasure to accompany her; she saw so much, cared so much, and compared so admirably what she saw with other schools elsewhere, and she was so careful to utilize what she saw and heard. She was always anxious to help teachers to visit the schools of other countries, and did much to stir in me a great interest in foreign education. I believe she first started the idea of travelling scholarships for teachers, and she felt great interest in the Gilchrist Scholarship when it was founded.”

“Miss Buss was a delightful companion. I visited many places in France, Switzerland, and Italy with her, and she knew the history of every city and town. A stay of three weeks in the Maderanerthal 314will never be forgotten, as she was able to enter into all our expeditions.

“The young always—men or women—were attracted by her vivaciousness of manner and her delightful talk, so that our evenings in the hotel were bright and cheerful, though no one knew who she was till after her departure.”

She always became quite naturally the centre of any circle. I remember one day, when she and I were staying at Ben Rhydding, we were in a corner of an almost deserted reading-room, and she began to talk in a low tone about the book she was reading. It was not long before the nearest reader laid down his book and came nearer, to find appreciative listeners to his good stories of Ruskin—whose pupil he had been—and of other notabilities, as he and Miss Buss exchanged many an anecdote and bon-mot then crisp and new, though since worn threadbare. There was no more reading that morning, every one who came in being very willing to join the laughing circle. Many interesting persons came and went during our stay at Ben Rhydding, and it was curious to note how soon they found her out, and how eagerly all gathered round to join in the talks which she set going. She enjoyed it, too, as she writes of it to her sister—

“The crowds of people who know me in London wear me out, and I confess that in the holidays I do not want to make acquaintance recklessly. In a house like this there is no end to them, and I have literally no more time to myself than I get at home. Still, the experience is pleasant, and worth having, especially for Frank. Some day you must share it with me. It is a comfort to be without household cares, and a place like this gives one plenty of opportunity of studying life.”

In summer she generally went abroad, and her letters give very graphic accounts of her experiences. There is a very full description of Fécamp, in particular, most interesting, if space would allow. And also many 315peeps at German towns. Miss Crane tells how Miss Buss stopped on her way from La Bourboule to collect all the facts to be found in Orleans, for her lecture on Joan of Arc, afterwards given to girls; and Mrs. Offord, in speaking of the lecture, shows how, at that remote date, Miss Buss anticipated the present cult of the Maid, setting her in the place now accorded by a repentant country.

The entire change of life abroad made it very pleasant to Miss Buss. From Berlin she writes, in 1882—

“Our pleasant holiday is coming to an end! Like Sep, I seem to revive when out of my own country. Yet I would not change countries, if I could. Exchange climates? yes; but country? no, no, a hundred times no! I like to be able to kill myself, if I choose, by going across a road at my own will, instead of being taken care of by watchful police and soldiers at every turn. It is dreadful for a country to be over-governed, and that is the case with all the German towns I have seen, so far. We got here last night late; the Crown Prince and Princess were in our carriage (Frank and I started with Sara Bernhardt on her wedding-night!). At every point there are soldiers. The whole place bristles with the detestable military spirit; horrible war-pictures are on the walls of the galleries, and military trophies are everywhere.... I fear Prussia will have to pay—like France—largely for her ‘glory.’”

But a volume might be made from her letters in her frequent journeys at home and abroad. She knew her native land well, but wrote less about it. A few extracts may be given, especially of a visit to Charlotte Brontë’s home, during our stay at Ben Rhydding.

Miss Buss had a very keen love of colour, and to her the total absence of everything but dull drab in Haworth was specially depressing. Houses, stone walls instead of hedges, flat tombstones so thick that no blade of grass could grow between them, all of this same lifeless drab, give an effect of singular desolation. The Parsonage, with its unbroken walls, in which were set 316flat windows, and with its roof of slate, closely adjoins the dreary churchyard. The only outlet for those passionate young lives must have been in the blue of the sky and in the changing tints of the expanse of moorland stretching into the far distance.

But it is of the church that Miss Buss has most to say in her notes of the day—

“August 18, 1879.

“A party of seven started at eleven, in a waggonette, for Haworth, a drive of eighteen miles through several villages and the town of Keighley. Haworth (pronounced Horth) consists of one long, straggling street, frightfully steep, so that one can neither drive up nor down, but must walk.

“We went to the Black Bull for lunch, and then visited the church and churchyard. Oh, what an abomination the church is! It is very old, dating from a very early period. It has only two naves, and no chancel, nor transept, nor anything to break its hideous straightness. Where the communion-table stands is a window, small, and, on both sides, another window, very large. High, worm-eaten, rotten pews, a deep gallery at one end, and on one side, and broken or worm-eaten beams everywhere; narrow seats, on which it is impossible to sit; no ventilation, the whole place reeking with the accumulated foul air of centuries. Such is Haworth Church!

“Charlotte Brontë died twenty-five years ago—in 1855. In her time the organ stood over the communion-table, and over the rectory-pew! It seems impossible, but this is a fact. The successor to Mr. Brontë has moved the organ into the side gallery, and has taken away the pew, to leave room for some benches for the choir. In this church Grimshaw, Wesley, and Whitfield preached.

“We, of course, saw Charlotte Brontë’s wedding-register. We wandered round the parsonage, which has been enlarged since the time of the Brontës; we walked behind the house on the moors, and entered the school where she and her sisters taught.

“All the houses are built of stone, and look cold and grey. Hundreds of English-speaking people visit the place yearly, through the interest in the home of those remarkable women, the Brontës, and yet the church is to be pulled down in three weeks’ time. It seems a pity that no one can be found to build a new church, and let the old one be preserved that we and our successors may see 317how and in what places our fathers worshipped.... Poor Charlotte Brontë! After seeing the place, one understands how infinitely sad life must have been in it.”

In striking contrast with this desolate scene was another experience, when we spent a few very pleasant days in the last home of George Eliot, at Witley, which had been taken by our friend Mr. Neate. Miss Buss writes to her cousin—

“‘Daniel Deronda’ was written in her boudoir, now turned into a spare bedroom, in which I slept. What a crowd of thoughts come into one’s mind as one stands in that particular room. If walls could speak!

“The grounds are 3½ acres, so they are extensive enough to afford variety. The house stands on the top of a hill, surrounded by trees and shrubs. The sun is glorifying everything, and the distant landscape reminds me of one of the lower valleys in Switzerland. There are hills on hills, low, of course, in elevation, but making the view very diversified.

“Within a short distance lives Birket Foster, and nearer still that charming water-colour painter, Mrs. Allingham.

“But my mind is full of George Eliot, her books, her life, her struggles, aspirations——

“The carriage is here for a drive, so I have to conclude abruptly.”

Here is a letter telling of one of her summer trips—the meeting alluded to being that first important interview with the Endowed Schools Commission—

“Harwich, Aug. 8, 1873.

My dear Alfred and Léonie,

“The sea is rolling in before my window; except for that pleasant sound, nothing else can be heard! The sun is shining on the opposite coast of the river Orwell, while on my right stretches out the German Ocean.

“Having leisure before service, and again, as I hope, after it, what better can I do with it than write a little acknowledgment of your loving letters....

“I left home last Thursday, met Sep at Kelvedon, stayed there till Saturday. The doctor, father, and I drove to Colchester, thence 318to Manningtree and here, where we are planted for a week. On Monday I go by train (the father and uncle drive up, taking three days), attend the meeting on Tuesday, and on Wednesday start for Dover, Ostend, and Brussels, where Sep will meet us. Miss Jeanie Ridley travels with us. On Saturday week Uncle Henry joins me in Brussels, and we go on to Cologne, thence sleeping at Mayence, and going next morning to Homburg, that I may, for the first and last time, see the gambling-tables. They are to be closed this year. At Heidelberg Miss J. Ridley leaves us, to remain with her friends there, and we go on to Zurich, over the Splügen, returning by Strasburg and Paris.

“This route will take us to Venice by way of the Brenner Pass, between Munich and Verona.

“My dear love to you all. I hope our Charlie boy is having some riding. A kiss to him and the girls from

“Your loving sister.”

At Heidelberg the party remained a few days, seeing something of the country, through the kindness of my sister’s friends, who lived in an old “schloss” outside the town. During this journey my sister first became really acquainted with Miss Buss, who wrote afterwards to me—

“I learned to care a good deal for your ‘child,’ and soon—well, not too soon—found out how much lay beneath that excessive reserve. Her flashes were very interesting to me, but my uncle’s companionship made it impossible for us to fuse, as you and I did in Edinburgh.”

In later years, a course of waters at a German bad became a necessity, and the letters give sketches of Spa, Ems, Kreuznach, Carlsbad, etc., which may be summed up, in brief, in extracts which also show the writer in relation to her own people—

“Kissingen, Aug. 20, 1885.

Mein theuerster, allerliebster Franz,

“Ich liebe dich noch und immer. It is difficult not to drop into German; we have been in the midst of it so long, and 319we take a German lesson so often at the little theatre. Besides, it has such pretty expressions. The use of ‘thou’ to those with whom you are very intimate is charming! It is a loss to have dropped it in English.

“Father will be home on Saturday, I hear, and I hope he will go off to the ‘liebe mütterchen’ at Ilfracombe....

“To-day, for the first time, we have rain. But we have been to the Saliné, or salt springs, and are now going to the theatre. Last night we went to a ‘diabolisch spiritisch’ performance by a conjurer. The Duke of Cambridge sat very near us, so near that we could hear nearly all he was saying.”

“Marienbad, Aug. 16, 1886.

“... At six a.m. a fine band strikes up a lovely chorale, which wakes every one. Hundreds of people carrying tumblers go out on the promenade, when the band plays, and walk about. There is so great a crowd at the Kreuzbrunnen that they form three lines, and walk slowly one after another till they get to the tap, at which a girl is waiting to serve. Some, I among them, go to a hot-water supply to mix with the icy mineral water, and then walk for twenty minutes. After this interval, we again get into line for a second glass, and have another walk. By this time the band has performed five pieces, all good music and well played, and has gone to the other end of the promenade, where there is another stream, the Ferdinand’s quelle. I go here for a third tumbler and another walk. I get nearly two hours, and then, but only then, go back to breakfast, which all heartily enjoy.

“I have a lovely room, on the first floor, beautifully furnished, with two large windows looking out on the pine forest. Every window in Marienbad has a large cushion, the size of the sill, covered with white cotton. I find that these are to put your elbows on to look out of the window.

“To-day has been beautiful beyond description, cool and clear, with cloudless sky, and the loveliest gleams of light between the pines.

“We leave here on the 31st, go to Munich for three days, and stay to see the famous Gorge of Pfeffers, and then join Mrs. Hodgson at Serneus, Prättigau, Switzerland.

“I write a card every day to mother or father. Please send this on. It is a great pleasure to me to have a card, dearest laddie, and to know what you are doing.”

320“Marienbad, Aug. 20, 1886.

My very dear Sep and Maria,

“... I wish Sep could get a chaplaincy in some German spa, that would be so good for him and me, and that you and Arthur could join me in a visit to the same place. The only drawback is the long, wearisome journey. But one is repaid for the fatigue by the delightful air and the complete change of surroundings. One can live cheaply too. Our breakfasts cost—coffee, tea, or chocolate, one egg, and as many little rolls as one likes—about 9d.; dinner, 1s. 6d. or 1s. 8d.; and supper, 10d. or 1s. Afternoon tea we make in my room. I have the largest and handsomest room in the house for 25s., including everything. My room is the general sitting-room, and where we receive visitors, of whom there are rather more than I care for. The chaplain, Mr. Thomas, of Jesus, Oxford, and his sister, with whom I stayed in June, are here, with a fair number of English whom they know, and whom, consequently, I know. There are four members of Parliament, Sir Algernon Borthwick, Mr. Campbell Bannerman, Mr. Hoyle, a most delightful man, and Dr. Cameron, M.P. for Glasgow.

“After breakfast I return, and write or rest, while the others go to the hills and sit all the morning among the pines, and sometimes dine at one of the forest places.

“I go to a hot mineral bath at eleven, and at one we dine. We never know where we shall have our next meal, and very often have little or no idea of what a particular dish we order may turn out. So the life is so new and fresh, so delightful for a time that no one can fail to enjoy it. The band plays, there is a theatre, there are splendid concerts, two libraries, besides endless walks and views in the woods. The air is scented by the pines, and by the wonderful flowers. We could hardly be happier, in the quiet way that becomes our age.... An Italian professor said to one of our ladies, who was laughing, ‘Ah, I will tame you, you screw!’ She said, ‘What?’ He answered, ‘Why, you do not know your Shakspere!”...

“The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh only stayed one or two nights, and had to go to the second floor. To-day we saw the Grand Duke and Duchess walking about: they are very tall and thin. Their children’s nurse is resplendent! She made me quite wild to have her dress for the next costume dance!”...



“Ecco Roma!”

The greatest delights from travel came to Miss Buss from the two extremes of North and South—extremes which yet touch—Sweden and Italy, the two most distinctively artistic lands. In the Venice of the North she was at home, for she loved the people; and she was not less at home in the Venice of the Adriatic, where she loved the place and the associations. But the City of the Seven Hills was the home of her heart, and, without knowing what she was in Rome, one could know only the half of her possibilities. Her first visit to Rome in 1875 opened a new phase of being, and gave her a way of escape from everyday worry. After this first visit, she writes—

“The worries, correspondence, and work of re-opening are immense, but I am well, and resolute!

“At Bologna, there is a marble medallion of Ugo Bassi, put up by his fellow-citizens. I comfort myself, you see, by going back to Italy.”

The visit to Sweden was something less of a holiday than those to Italy, because it was full of educational experience. At that date, 1871, Sweden stood in advance of any European country on the introduction 322of the American system. Professor Siljiström, having been sent to America to report on education, came home, wrote his book, and, having a free hand, was able within three years to work a complete reformation. Miss Buss took an introduction to him from Mrs. Garth Wilkinson, but he was unfortunately not within reach. Through Miss Margaret Howitt, who had recently spent a year with Frederika Bremer, she became acquainted with the Baroness Adlersparre, one of the chief movers in educational matters, and editress of a woman’s journal published at Stockholm, a lady deeply interested in all that interested Miss Buss, through whom the way was opened in Copenhagen for similar experiences.

Miss Buss intensely enjoyed her trip to Sweden and Denmark, and after her return gave an account of her experiences in two lectures to her girls, with clear summaries of history, and vivid descriptions of scenery, manners, and customs. The peripatetic (“goande,” or “going,”) meals amused her, and she tells how—

“there are no chairs round the dining-table, and no waiters. Ladies as well as gentlemen help themselves, and the hostess has little to do.”

She also describes, in Stockholm, the novel custom of smörgös, i.e. “eating a series of strange dishes as a relish before the dinner began.”

“On a small table, at the side, we found smoked reindeer flesh; smoked salmon with poached eggs; fresh, raw, sliced salmon (gravlaks); hard-boiled eggs; fried sausages; a kind of anchovy; raw herrings, etc.; white and brown bread; brandy, etc. The gentlemen drank one sort of spirit out of tiny glasses. Everything was tastefully arranged on a snowy cloth.”

But in this trip her chief interest was in her educational experiences—of which she took full notes—varied by pleasant social gatherings, to which she and her 323father and her uncle, Dr. Buss, were invited. In the only letter that can now be found relating to this tour she expresses herself very warmly—

“Aug. 17, 1871.

“We have been enjoying ourselves I can tell you! One of my introductions has led to an acquaintance with a Miss Hierta, a Högral borna, or nobly born lady, who is clever, handsome, rich, benevolent, and young. Her father is the oldest member of what we should call the House of Commons, but it is called the Lower Chamber. He is familiarly known as ‘Lars Hierta,’ the representative of the Liberal party, the friend of education and of women. He is a fine old man of seventy-four, tall, handsome, and, I hear, witty in the House, and always listened to with respect. He and his daughter have been here to-night to ‘soppor,’ a word which needs no translation.

“Through Miss Hierta I have been able to see nine of the great schools here. All I can say is that Sweden sets us a noble example. Education is practically compulsory, as no child can be confirmed till he can read, write, and cypher, and he cannot get employment without the certificate of confirmation. Of course such compulsion would not do in our country; but still it is something to be able to boast that no child can remain ignorant of the ‘three R’s.’...

“I feel that we English, who are so much richer than these Swedes, are yet in many respects far behind. Here the State considers that it is a duty to provide education for all. And all this has been done, in the last few years, mainly through one man, Professor Siljiström, who was sent to America, and who, on his return, was allowed to remodel the school system (of which a full account is given).”

Nor was there less attraction on Miss Hierta’s side. In the following year, she visited Miss Buss in London, and, written in 1873, I have a letter speaking of her sorrow in the illness of “our dear Miss Buss,” and she adds—

“I hope that she is recovered now; she is doing such a noble work, and she has such a wonderful combination of greatness of heart, of intelligence and energy, that a woman like this ought to 324live eternally even here on earth, where she is so much wanted. How I wish we had one like her here to establish a model school for young girls.”

In Mary Howitt’s “Life” there is among her Roman experiences an interesting account of a visit from “charming Anna Hierta, a beautiful specimen of a Swedish woman.” She was one of the girls deeply influenced by Frederika Bremer’s “Hertha,” the book that emancipated woman in Sweden, and seemed to me to have in her all the splendid force of the fair, strong women of the North.

The first visit Miss Buss made to Rome was in 1875–76, with her brother, the Rev. Septimus Buss. Here on a post-card are her first impressions—

“51, Piazza de Spagna Roma,

“Dec. 26, 1875.

“We are having a delightful time; beyond all expression enjoyable. To-morrow evening we visit Mr. and Mrs. Howitt, and afterwards I will write to you. But we are out all day; have a late dinner, and a crowded salon afterwards, so that I can find no time for writing. We have had no rain, but the most marvellous sunsets! Such as Turner only painted. This lovely city realizes all my anticipations. In nothing have we been disappointed.”

And later, this letter—

“51, Piazza de Spagna, Jan. 2, 1876.

My dear Carry,

“Rome is perfectly lovely! No word can describe it, nor the thrilling emotions which it causes. Think of the overpowering sensations I felt yesterday in driving along the Appian Way by the place where Horatius murdered his sister because of her grief for her lover Curiatius, and then under the magnificent arch of Drusus, through several miles of tombs. We passed the church of ‘Domine, quo vadis,’ the place where St. Peter, whose heart failed him, and who was fleeing from Rome, met the Lord, and in utter surprise fell on his knees, saying, ‘Domine, quo vadis’ (Lord, whither goest Thou)? To which the risen Saviour 325answered, ‘I go to Rome, to be again crucified,’ whereon St. Peter, regaining his courage, retraced his steps to Rome, and suffered martyrdom. We then visited some ancient columbaria, or tombs, containing ashes of the dead. Then we entered a great catacomb! As I write, my whole body seems to quiver at the remembrance. We walked about three quarters of a mile through the galleries containing the burial places of many a holy martyr, especially of the early bishops of Rome, most of whom gave their lives for their faith. Nothing but coming here will enable a person to understand this marvellous city!

“Always your loving,


The year following Mrs. Septimus Buss was her companion, and she writes to her brother—

“Roma, Dec. 31, 1877.

Dear old Sep,

“Don’t you talk about letters! We have written to you every day but one, and that represents a good deal when you remember Roman habits. We are, however, always wanting news of you.

“Rome is, I think, more delightful than ever. Why is it? The weather is not so fine as you and I had it last year, though magnificent compared with English climate.

“We hear all sorts of things. To-day I was told that, when some cuttings for a new street near Cardinal Antonelli’s Villa were being made, a skeleton, with a splendid crown on its head, was found.

“Before 1870 there were no schools for the poor. Now all Italy has public schools, free, attended by many thousands of children.”

The next year she writes to her sister—

“Every place I go to is full of you. You and I are so fully in sympathy in so many things—here especially—that it seemed almost as if our hearts beat in unison last year. My present party is delightful; they are pleasant, cultivated girls, and are very amiable. There has not even been a jar. But surely I am not very difficult for them to get on with?”

“Not very difficult to get on with?” The answer to that question is given clearly enough in a very few 326of the reminiscences of those happy days—Miss Findon first—

“I went away with her several times in the holidays, and in 1878 had the great privilege of being with her in Rome. Mrs. Bryant was also there, and our party was more than a pleasant one. Every day for a month we went about with Miss Buss, and she seemed never tired of showing us the places she knew so well, and pouring out to us her own stores of knowledge in history and art, which made everything of double interest to us.”

Then comes Miss Lawford—

“The time I, with some others, spent with Miss Buss in Rome will ever remain a delightful memory. The many visits which she had paid to Italy, together with her love of history, ancient and modern, enabled us to get much out of our stay there in a comparatively short time. We were in no danger of imagining we knew the city, as she constantly impressed upon us that she was merely introducing us to it! I can still hear her. ‘Ecco Roma!’ when we came within sight of the lights of the town on our arrival there at night.”

Mrs. Bailey (Miss Emma Elford) writes at Christmas, 1894—

“This time of year always carries me back to the happy month I had the privilege of spending with her in Rome. How delightful it was to know her in her private life, and how she entered into all one’s little joys and sorrows. I shall never forget that delightful Christmas holiday; each day now, as it passes, I almost know where we were, though it is so long ago as 1877. Dear Miss Buss! how good she was ever to me; never forgetting me in anything that was going on.”

Miss Marian Elford echoes the same strain—

“But to be in Rome with her was the climax of all delights. She literally knew the history of every corner of it, both ancient and modern. She was a good linguist, being able to converse in Italian, German, and French. Not one word of ‘school’ passed between us from the time we left Holborn until we were 327back in our own places, for she had the happy faculty of leaving work with all its worries behind.”

In 1880, her party included my sister and Miss Fawcett, who give still the same report. Of a visit to Ostia, on this occasion, Miss Buss writes fully—

“January 11, 1880.

“We had a delightful day at Ostia. We went in a sort of waggonette with a cover as roof, the sides open, four horses and two men. Our start was made about a quarter after eight. You know the road? Through the gate of St. Paolo by the great Basilica, and then a turn to the right (to the left is the road to the Tre Fontane) took us across ‘the dumb Campagna sea’ for miles. The whole distance is sixteen miles. We stopped on the way to look at the magnificent stone-pine forest at Castel-Fusano, a little house belonging to the Chigi family. Then we returned to the grand old Castle of Ostia, and, laying down our rugs, encamped for dinner (or lunch) on the roadside. We had cold fowl, bread, butter, cake, cheese, wine, and oranges. With our etnas, we also made some cocoa. Fancy a perfectly delightful picnic on the 7th of January!

“Then we walked along the street of tombs under excavated Ostia. To any one who has not seen Pompeii, it would give a good notion of it. Some very fine statues have been dug up and put in the Lateran. The excavations are going on slowly for want of money. A fine temple has been cleared, facing the chief road from this post. Ostia must have been as magnificent as the Via Appia, in the days of St. Paul. You remember that lovely bust of the young Augustus which was dug up in Ostia?”

An interval followed after this till, in 1885, she took her nephew Frank and a college friend of his. Of this visit we have a full account by Miss Blatherwick, which lets us into the secret of the comprehensive knowledge of Rome which all recognized in Miss Buss—

“She had travelled all night, and arrived about 7 in the morning. I quite expected she would have had her breakfast sent up to her, and would have taken a few hours’ rest first; but no! she 328had seen Rome several times before, but the two gentlemen had not; and as she could only stay three weeks, there was no time to be lost. At 9 o’clock she appeared at the breakfast-table, looking ‘as fresh as a daisy,’ and just as though she had been there a week. Directly after breakfast she said to me, ‘You will join us in everything, will you not? We four will just fill a carriage.’ I assented only too gladly, and that morning began one of the happiest times I have ever had. Miss Buss brought with her double or treble the number of books about Rome that most people would care to take with them on so long a journey, and generally she put two or three of them into the carriage, and could turn to any passage she wanted to read aloud, although her own knowledge was such that she was herself a ‘walking guide to Rome.’ Her days there were passed much as follows: after breakfast at 9, she went to her room for a little reading; at 10.30 we drove out to see and study something in the Eternal City; then home to lunch, and, after a brief rest, went out again on the same errand. At 4.30 we assembled in her room for afternoon tea, which she and I had agreed to provide between us. We each boiled some water over our little travelling spirit-lamps; she had brought with her table-napkins and a dainty little tea-set; and then—all being prepared—we gathered round the table, and had a delightful half-hour. One day Miss Buss said to me, ‘Madame T. (our hostess) does not at all approve of these afternoon teas; I think we had better invite her to ours to-morrow.’ This was done, and the following day Miss Buss remarked, ‘Madame T. said she did not like afternoon teas, but I think she enjoyed hers very much yesterday.’ Tea over, the gentlemen disappeared to prepare for the late dinner, and Miss Buss quickly changed her dress, and at 5.30 punctually she and they met in an unused back drawing-room, and took an hour’s Italian conversational lesson. This daily lesson ended when the dinner-bell rang at 6.30, and afterwards we went up to the drawing-rooms, where all the visitors generally gathered together, and games at cards, chess, draughts, etc., were played. She always joined in some of them and in the conversation till 10 p.m. Once or twice there was an excursion for the day into the country, and one evening we went out to view the Colosseum by moonlight. And this was her holiday!

“I noticed that during this time, Miss Buss never once spoke of her college, the teachers, or anything connected with business, thus showing how wisely she could put care entirely aside for a time, and give herself up to relaxation.”

329Miss Buss always went to the Pension Tellenbach, which, in her time, was quite a noted centre for the English in Rome, the visitors’ book at the old house in the Piazza di Spagna including the names of Dean Stanley and Lady Augusta, Dean Plumptre, Mr. E. A. Freeman, and, on one occasion, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone. Madame Tellenbach was a German lady whose social position and knowledge of Rome gave her the power to make things very pleasant for her guests, and she was proud of the results of her skill and energy, a pride into which Miss Buss could enter with a real sympathy. On her death, Madame Tellenbach left her whole establishment to her brother-in-law, on condition that it should be still carried on, not being able to bear that the work of years should fall to pieces, and not perceiving that her bequest might be very much of a white elephant. But, though not in need of it, Colonel Tellenbach was not disposed to reject a valuable property, so he and his charming wife established themselves in one suite of apartments, and consoled themselves for the sufferings entailed in the management by giving soirées musicales and dansantes to their guests.

That I should go to Rome with Miss Buss had been our dream for years, during which my home claims had never made it possible. At last, in 1889–90, my sister and I met her at the Pension Tellenbach, arriving there two days before her. The advent of so scholastic a party would have carried consternation into any British hotel or boarding-house. There was Miss Buss herself, with all her weight of honours; there was a governor of her schools and the honorary secretary of her centre for the Cambridge Local Examination; there was the head of the Cambridge Training College for Teachers; there were two B.A.’s, head-mistresses, and two Kindergarten head-mistresses, A.C.P. (Associates of 330the College of Preceptors). Even the girl of the party was a Girton graduate. Fortunately, our kind German and Italian friends had not yet learnt their alphabet in this new style, and, in their happy ignorance, were conscious only of the bright wave of fun and frolic, of clever and wise talk, that filled the place with ripple and sparkle during the next three weeks. After the day’s excursions, amusing charades were acted by the English, with artistic tableaux vivants in return by the Germans. The B.A.’s gave a college party in their rooms, which were en suite, and were charmingly decorated for the occasion, where games were played and nonsense talked, to the despair of Colonel Tellenbach and other gentlemen, who were none of them invited, not even the Bishop himself, who was head of the English table. And when they had all gone, sad was the blank. My sister and I stayed on, and, very often, in the evenings, did Colonel Tellenbach come beside us to sigh over the loss of ces charmantes dames anglaises!

We had, of course, determined that our first sight of the Colosseum should be by moonlight, so, that, on the first brilliant night when all could go, we started—fourteen ladies in a procession of five of the nice little Roman victorias. None of the gentlemen were free to act as protectors, so we made up in quantity for lack of quality. It must be confessed that some of us could have entered sympathetically into the feelings of the rank-and-file of a forlorn hope. Malaria and brigands seemed to us to lurk in every deep dark corner of the vast ruin, and we did not know what might be the perils of the way thither. But our leader had our confidence, and we followed, to find the streets of Rome as quiet as those of an English village, and in the ruins nothing more than groups of tourists of all nations.

331Still, our experience made us fully appreciate a story which was going the round at the time. A solitary Englishman, wandering in the ruins, was roused to suspicion by the number of times he came across the same burly, brown-frocked, cowled monk, who finally jostled against him, turning suspicion into certainty. The Englishman felt at once for his watch. It was not there! He strode after the monk, overmatching him in height if not in breadth, and, seizing him by the throat, demanded his watch. A colloquy, unintelligible on either side, ended in the monk giving up the watch; and, with a parting shake that sent him sprawling, the irate Englishman stalked off to tell his wife the tale. “But your watch is on the dressing-table!” she said, in alarm. He pulled out the watch in his pocket. It was not his own. A veil falls over the scene. But the early express next morning took away two passengers who were not likely soon to re-visit the Eternal City.

Nothing marred our own complete enjoyment of the scene as we sat for some time in the moonlight, opposite the imperial seat, trying to bring back the past, to see the cruel Roman crowd, to picture the stately Vestals with their power of life and death. And most clearly of all we seemed to see the Monk Telemachus as he sprang into the arena, the last human sacrifice to Roman lust of blood.

Miss Findon tells of similar experience—

“Once, as we sat in the Colosseum, Miss Buss read us Byron’s lines and also Dickens’ words about it. I remember the tones of her voice now as she ended:—‘God be thanked—a ruin!’ And then paused while we tried to carry our minds back to that old time when under that same blue sky, this ruin had been the scene of those terrible fights of men and beasts, and the Roman ladies looked on. How different from the tender heart of her who was sitting in our midst!”

332Long before the story of Italian patriots was generally known, Miss Buss had made it her own, and she loved to tell it; as she had told us on the afternoon of Christmas Day that year. I find a note dated 1877, in which she mentions a talk with Old Pupils—

“I told them about ‘new Italy,’ and read from Mrs. Browning, and Mrs. Hamilton King’s ‘Disciples’ and ‘Aspromonte.’ Do you know Mr. Browning’s ‘Court of the King,’ a small poem?”

In a letter to her nephew, we find her feeling on this side of Italian history—

“Rome, January, 1884.

“I hope you sympathize with the progress of humanity, dearest lad, and with the regeneration of a nation! My heart thrills when I think of how much men have suffered to make beautiful Italy a geographical fact, instead of a mere name. Only last year a young Triestine, named Overdank, was hanged by the Austrians because he with others wanted to annex Trieste to Italy. Many people think the whole eastern side of the Adriatic ought to belong to Italy. Of course this was rebellion on the part of Overdank. According to law, no doubt, he suffered. But the horror is that the executioners are said to have sent the bill for the cost of the execution to the heart-broken mother! She had to pay them, but has since died—happily for her.... And those are Christians, and have mothers!

“Italy has a grand past. May she have as grand a future! In the blood of the thousands of martyrs for the liberty and unity of their country is the hope of future generations. Our country’s history seems but of yesterday, when one is in Rome, surrounded by memorials of the old Roman Empire. Have I told you of the discovery of the house of Numa Pompilius, just excavated in the Forum, close to the arch of Titus, under the old gate of the Palatine? It must have been used by the Pontifex Maximus all through Roman history to the time of Augustus, who chose to live on the Palatine, and fulfilled the conditions by making his house on the Palatine state property. When he left the house in the Forum, the Vestals were placed in it, and the discoveries show that these ladies lived in almost regal splendour in this house, and their statues, broken—in some cases wilfully—and defaced, are being dug up daily. When we came, one only had been found. Now there are from twelve to 333sixteen at least. On these statues is recorded the name of the Vestal. On one the name is erased. Did she lapse, or did she become a Christian?

“In December last, a jar containing 864 Anglo-Saxon coins, dating from 901 to 946 A.D. (I think) was found. How did these coins come there? Surely they were brought by the Anglo-Saxon pilgrims mentioned by Bede. Can you begin to understand the extraordinary fascination of such a place?...

“I am constantly in a state of thrilling emotion arising from the associations, and one thing overpowers another. One was quite speechless at the sight of the ancient inscriptions from the tombs of the early Christians. It was a thrilling thing to see a man like the Pope, whose office is so ancient and so sacred, even to those Christians who do not agree with him.

“It was really awe-striking to stand in rooms used by Augustus, by Livia and by Drusus; in the case of the latter the frescoes are as fresh as if done a few months since....

“I wonder if I shall ever have the delight of introducing you to the world of wonders concentrated in Rome?”

My own memories of her in Rome are curiously comprehensive of the whole range of interest in the Eternal City: heathen, Christian, mediæval, artistic, patriotic; in each and all of which she was equally at home.

On our first Sunday afternoon we had gone to the Palatine, first pausing to try to imagine the splendour of Nero’s Golden House, before we went on to stand at the bar where St. Paul must have stood before the Cæsar to whom he had made appeal. A portion of the marble rail stands now as it stood then, and there we tried to picture that memorable scene. Miss Buss described to us how the heathen Court of Justice had become the Christian Church, and so vivid was the whole impression that to this moment I can still see the graceful careless emperor, in the centre of the semicircle of fawning, sneering courtiers, all making merry at the claim to Roman citizenship of this mean Jew; 334with some pride too, no doubt, at the far sweep of the Roman power to which her most distant subject could appeal and not in vain.

As we stood there, lost in the past, there came a sudden clash and clang of all the church bells in Rome—once there had been one for each day in the year—and all the blue air was full of sound. Here was the echo, still clear and strong, of the message of the despised Christian, while of Nero’s Golden House there is not a single trace.

Again, we are standing on the terrace in front of St. Gregorio, and seem to watch the descending figure of the monk Augustine—our Saint of Canterbury—as he had just received the blessing of the Great Gregory, and was departing on his mission to those fair-haired Angles who are so like—and so unlike—the angels. Then we turn into the refectory, where, day by day, the saint entertained his twelve poor pilgrims, and we hear how to his large charity was given the grace of entertaining angels not “unawares,” since, on the face of one of his guests whose special need had called out special service, the faithful servant saw a light which showed him that the Master of the Feast Himself was there in very truth:—

“Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,
Himself, his hungry neighbour, and Me.”

On another day we had gone to see the Moses of Michael Angelo—earth’s most lasting symbol of the imperishable Divine Law—and, as we came out of the church, we paused to look at the picture made by the convent with the tall palm-tree against the Frangipani Tower, and heard how in time of famine the Frangipani—the “bread-breakers”—earned their noble name, as true lords (hláford, or “loaf-ward”) in sharp contrast to the Borgias—the spoilers of the poor—whose 335palace still stands to the right of the steps down which we passed, going through the archway, that we might look up to the balcony where the beautiful Lucrezia must often have stood, to cool her throbbing brow, under the quiet stars so high above all futile ambition and fleeting passion.

And yet another well-remembered walk, from the Piazza di Spagna, past the studio of Canova, to the Via di Ripetta, to look for the bust that marks the house of Angelo Brunetti—

“The tribune of the people, who could stay
A tumult by the lifting of his hand,
And by the lifting of his voice could bring
An array round him”—

by his mother named Ciceruacchio, “Fair and strong.”

“And still the name grew with him as he grew
To stature stateliest, and strongest arm,
And fairest face of all the City.”

And we talked of the great deeds of that fateful year as we followed the street which is now called by the name of him.

“Who with deep eyes, silent and resolute,
Rode slowly up the steep of golden sand
To San Pietro in Montorio.”

Then, standing by the grave which tells of the gratitude of Italia Una, we pictured the triumphant procession up that same Via Garibaldi, as the ashes of the patriots who had died for Italy were brought from far and wide to rest in the Rome they had loved so well.

My Roman Journal closes with a comment on Miss Buss’ most able guidance, and the conclusion—

“To be with her in Rome is something to be remembered. She is always an inspiration, with her splendid vitality and energy; but here, with her enthusiasm and her complete familiarity with every association, she is wonderful indeed—a living flame of fire.”



“And that which should accompany old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends.”

When we think of the vivid impressions of men and things that we might have had from one who enjoyed such varied experience, we cannot but regret that the press and hurry of her life made a diary an impossibility for Miss Buss.

In the early years of her work she succeeded in filling some small volumes, but when they were sought after her death, nothing remained but a few pages with notes of the childhood of her nephews and nieces.

From the fairly continuous record in her Journal-letters from 1870–79, and from Miss Fawcett’s Diary during her residence at Myra (1868–88), as well as from the letters to the Rev. Francis F. Buss (1884–88), sufficient indications may be gathered to show us what we have lost. From Miss Fawcett we get glimpses of the variety and breadth of interests shared by Miss Buss with the inmates of her house. Lectures on every topic from the best lecturers, concerts, soirées, dances, charades and tableaux vivants, excursions and picnics to interesting places, interviews with celebrated persons, all go to make the reader imagine what the interest of a full record might have been. Life certainly must 337have been very far from dull in those days, however full of work it may have been. And this was still more true of the last ten years, to which we have so little clue, when she went out even more among the leaders of the educational movement.

Here are a few notes that we should like expanded—

“Miss Buss went to lunch at the Deanery, and afterwards had a quiet drive with Lady Augusta Stanley.”

“On Jubilee Day Miss Buss was invited to the Abbey by Dean Bradley, and was seated next to Professor Max Müller. At night she told us all about the ceremony. She had been intensely interested in the greetings between the Queen and the Royal Family, an emotional scene that went to her heart.”

“Miss Buss had an interview with the Crown Princess (the Empress Frederick), and talked of education.”

“Miss Buss has been to the Prize-giving at the Richmond School. She had a chat with the Princess Mary of Teck.”

On another of these occasions she was photographed, sitting beside the Duchess of Albany.

Mrs. Hill notes a characteristic point—

“She was never satisfied to enjoy anything by herself, and living at Myra, as I did, I have been with her at different times to all kinds of things, the Indian Soirées, the Bishop of London’s garden-parties, the Royal Society’s Ladies’ Evenings, and big soirées at West End houses in the season. In the same spirit, if she had bouquets on Prize Day, etc., she would send them in old days to Mrs. Laing, and, later on, to people who would care to have them. If she had a carriage to make calls, she would take some one for the drive.”

Then from her letters to her nephew at Cambridge—

“April 16, 1884.

“On Friday I lunched at St. Mark’s Vicarage, Surbiton, with Archdeacon Burney, lineal descendant of the famous musical Dr. Burney, friend of Johnson, Burke, Garrick, etc., and father of Frances, author of ‘Evelina,’ and ‘Diary of Madame D’Arblay,’ 338the fashionable authoress of the day, on whom Macaulay afterwards conferred immortality in his essay. Do you know her diary? It is so minute that as one reads it one is transported into another age, and moves among the great men and women of the 18th century. I can never forget the delight with which I read it, in my twentieth year, just as it was published.

“Archdeacon Burney’s walls are covered with family portraits, heirlooms, Sir Joshua’s well-known Dr. Burney, and Garrick; Gainsborough’s portrait of Paul Sanday and his lady-love; of Dr. Johnson, from the Thrale collection; of Madame D’Arblay (Fanny Burney), and the next generation of Burneys by Romney and Laurence.

“And there are some lovely Turners, and also a fine collection of autographs.... The visit was very interesting.... And then there is an invalid daughter, with a most lovely face and spiritual expression. She can only be moved from her couch to bed and back, and yet is full of brightness and good works.

“There has been a discussion lately as to the author of the lines ‘To love her was a liberal education,’ either by Steele or Congreve. Well, to see the invalid Miss Burney is a Christian education! How wonderful it is! Our heavenly Father seems to lift some weak ones of earth into a supernatural strength that makes them more powerful from their sick couch than the strong and healthy.”

“Feb. 21, 1885.

“I was in Cambridge yesterday ... it is not nearly so dear to me as when I had a beloved boy there! But still it is always delightful. Girton has been very gay—a ball, some theatricals (the ‘Ladies’ Battle’), and last night the inter-collegiate debate on Hero-worship; seventy Newnham girls were going to Girton, to lead in favour. Girton was to oppose by pointing out how it injured worshipped and worshipper.

“I spent the morning at Newnham, called at King’s, to see Mr. C. Ashbee’s new rooms; lunched at Girton, and had afternoon tea there, and went to ‘Potts,’ to see Willie B. He asked O. Ashbee to meet me.”

“Feb. 15, 1885.

“On Friday I went to a meeting at the Mansion House about the Parkes Museum, and then to the Vicarage. Mother, who was expecting Prof. Stuart, M.P., made me stay and dine with them. He is very bright, and I liked him. Besides, he is a Cambridge 339man, and that is a passport to me. He told us some stories of exam. mistakes, etc.”

“Feb., 1885.

“I have been out twice this week, once to Mrs. Dacre Craven’s (née Florence Lees), wife of the Rector of St. George’s, Bloomsbury. There were many interesting things to be seen, among others a series of photographs of Mecca, also of Medina. They must have been done by a Mahommedan, as it is death to a Christian to enter these sacred places.

“Another evening I went to the Countess D’Avigdor’s. She is a most beautiful old lady. The ladies were flashing with diamonds, and there was some splendid music. But most of the men were Conservative, and were abusing Gladstone in a most shameful way.

“Did I tell you I met Mr. Guthrie (vice versa Guthrie)? He is very simple and unaffected. I saw him at Mrs. Ashbee’s. Sir Spencer Wells was also there, the famous doctor.”

“June 6, 1886.

“I go to Oxford on Friday, to stay till Tuesday, and a most splendid programme of University sights, luncheons, dinners, meetings, etc., is arranged for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I am to be the guest of Mr. Thomas and his sister; I think he is a Master of Queen’s, but am not sure of the college. Friday and Saturday I must give to the Head-mistresses’ meetings, but I shall see a good deal of Oxford life. It will be grand to be in Oxford on Whit-Sunday.”

“June 29, 1890.

“Every day this week is full of engagements, and I find it difficult to escape them. I like to accept some. I should much have liked to go to Mrs. Gladstone’s garden-party, and also to the Duke of Westminster’s garden-party (I was asked as a subscriber to the Church House), but I could not manage either, in consequence of previous plans—Rugby, for instance.

“For the first time, yesterday, I went to the Rugby Speech Day, at the invitation of Dr. Percival, the Head-master. ‘Tom Brown’ was there, and when Dr. Percival announced him the cheers were deafening. Mr. Hughes has aged since I last saw him. He has made Rugby known to every civilized country, as well as live for ever in the memory of Rugbeians.

“Our own Prize Day was quite the best we have had for several years. The Bishop of Rochester made an excellent speech, in 340perfect taste, and Lady Elizabeth Biddulph, daughter to our early friend, the late Countess of Hardwicke, also delivered a good speech, which was liked by parents and girls. She is a thorough-going Temperance speaker, accustomed to large audiences.”

Cheltenham was another very attractive social centre. There she met Mrs. Frances Owen, whose exquisite lecture on Wordsworth, given at the North London Collegiate School, introduced her to the circle there. Mr. and Mrs. Middleton and their son were dear friends of the same period, and Miss Buss delighted in telling the stories of Mr. Middleton’s wonderful cat; especially that of waking its master at early dawn one morning that it might display five rats, laid in a row at the door; or the still more strange story of its taking Mr. Middleton into the library, after a fortnight’s absence, and there telling him a long tale, which the maid explained by saying that the cat, shut up in this room, had met in fierce combat and slain another of the enemy.

In Mr. Henry Middleton Miss Buss found artistic sympathy, and also gave it, for her drawing-room was one of the first decorated by Mr. Middleton in the new fashion which superseded the old white and gold of the first half of the century. I remember being taken by Miss Buss to see Mrs. Middleton, “that saintly woman,” as her friends called her, and bringing away a memory of peace and joy. She had come to try London advice for the complaint which proved fatal. And Mrs. Owen did not long survive her.

But Cheltenham, first and last, meant Miss Beale. It is a joy to think of the meetings—happily frequent—between these two kindred workers, who could give each other so rare a sympathy. The North London Collegiate and Camden Schools and the Cheltenham Ladies’ College are two great creations, original works of genius; and when we think of the continuous stream, 341scarcely less than a thousand persons, pupils and teachers, always passing through both places, we find a power and influence simply incalculable. The meeting between the two heads suggests a tête-à-tête between two queens, who for a brief bright respite may escape from the loneliness of royalty.[20]

20.  As an instance of the “true word spoken in jest,” we find this separateness of the two leaders emphasized, at a very early period of their career, in the often-quoted nonsense-rhyme, at which they laughed with the rest—

“Miss Buss and Miss Beale
Cupid’s darts do not feel;
They are not like us,
Miss Beale and Miss Buss!”

The authorship of this quatrain is uncertain, being attributed either to a master of Clifton, or to a boy of Cheltenham College. It is quite certain that they were not written by one of Miss Buss’ pupils, nor were they ever (as reported) found on the blackboard of any class-room in the North London Collegiate School for Girls.

Miss Beale was some years the younger, and in fullest vigour when her friend was feeling the stress and strain of work. But Miss Buss took the deepest interest in all the later developments at Cheltenham, and could rejoice in seeing at last the full realization of her own early dream, in an institution where a child may now enter the Kindergarten at the age of three—there is a lovely school full of these happy mites—and, after going through all the course, may finally leave the Training School as B.A. or B.Sc., fully competent to teach what she has so thoroughly learned.

It was wonderful how many different interests were packed into that full life. Besides all her private visiting, and educational and philanthropic meetings, there were the meetings of literary societies. She often went to those of the Royal Institution, and of the Royal Geographical, taking her girls. She belonged to the Wordsworth Society, and I remember her keen delight 342in an address by James Russell Lowell, in the library at Lambeth Palace, and again the satisfaction in the beautiful simplicity with which Mr. Lowell, in an address to the Browning Society, took the Christian side in the discussions which were a marked feature of that society. Even for the Society of Psychical Research she could keep an open mind, though in general she did not care for things abstract or vague. For fun she was always ready, and I well remember how we enjoyed Mark Twain’s subtle nonsense, in his lecture on “Our Fellow-savages of the Sandwich Islands.”

She had by nature and early association a great love of the drama, and indulged occasionally in a visit to the theatre, especially enjoying a French play, as she says—

“I am taking an evening sometimes, however, to get a French lesson at the Comèdie Française. I saw L’Avare last night. It is most perfectly acted.

“I saw Bernhardt in Andromaque. She is a wonderful actress, with a curious power of impressing herself on the spectator’s mind. Andromaque made one very sad; it seemed to point to the poor empress. How thankful I should be to die if I were in her place.”

She had much to say on her return from all such experiences, as well as from dinners and fêtes, when she had met and talked with eminent persons. Unhappily, there was no phonograph to take down her talk. It has gone, and with it all the record of times and seasons of public and private import of which she knew.

Then we have a peep at the books that interested her—

“Broadstairs, Aug. 26, 1873.

“Frank has been my companion in all my wanderings. I have read to my heart’s content; the laddie always goes to bed early, and so I had always two or three hours at night. I have devoured books on Education, Siljistrom’s American schools, Heppeau’s ditto. So that I have had two studies of American education; the 343one from a Swedish point of view, the other from a French. In Belgium, my boy and I studied Motley’s ‘Rise of the Dutch Republic,’ ‘Belfry of Bruges,’ etc. Although the holidays have been more broken up than I care for—they have been restful and enjoyable.

“On Saturday 6th I am to go to Gunnersbury, where my uncle Henry lives, and then I shall have a few days in the middle of the last week of the holidays. If I can, I want to go to Stratford-on-Avon on a pilgrimage—by the way, pilgrimages are all the fashion now!—to Shakespeare’s country.”

“I have been reading with intense interest the American book on the education of girls—the answer, by an American woman, to the book by Dr. Clark which formed the text for Dr. Maudsley’s article in the Fortnightly for April against the Higher Education of Women! The American women make out a strong case for themselves....

“If you have not read ‘Sister Dora’ let me lend it to you. She is an encouragement and a warning! She was very self-willed, and that is different from being strong-willed. She was the latter, too.”

(To her nephew, January 8, 1892.) “I am going to send you two comic books—‘My Wife’s Politics’ and ‘Samantha among the Brethren’—both books bearing on the woman-question—the question of the end of the nineteenth century. You will perhaps live to see the effects of the emancipation of women. Their higher and fuller development, their greater knowledge, and therefore greater sympathy, will bring them nearer to men of the best kind. For the other kind of men—as Mrs. Poyser says, ‘There will always be fools enough to match the men!’ I should like to revisit our planet at the end of the twentieth century, to see the effect on Society of the great revolution of the nineteenth—the Woman’s Rights Question.”

In early days, Miss Buss used at Easter to take a large house by the sea, and fill it with her family—the nephews and nieces bringing young friends—or with pupils or members of the staff. Later, her country house at Epping was open in this way for short holidays, and of these Mrs. Hill says—

344“It was delightful to be with Miss Buss at Epping. She generally had something interesting to read to us in the evening. She never minded what we did, and looked indulgently on all kinds of pranks.

“She remembered one’s likes and dislikes in the way of food. One of the last times I had tea with her (in October, 1874) she had some special cakes which she knew I liked, and when Mr. Hill and I were staying with her at Overstrand, if we expressed a liking for anything, she said to her companion, ‘Why do you not get it for them?’

“This minute thoughtfulness is a matter of constant comment. Miss Edwards tells of a visit from an old pupil who brought her daughter to Myra, and at tea-time Miss Buss asked, ‘Does your little girl like sugar as much as you did, my dear?’”

During her nephews’ college career she several times took a house at Cambridge, always arranging something in which her girl-undergraduates could join. Of one of her dances there is an account from her friend Mrs. Mathieson—

“In January, 1886, Miss Buss called and asked me to join her in giving a dance at Cambridge. Her two nephews were there, and Mr. W. Buck. My son was also there, and my daughter at Girton. I think we had about twenty from Girton, and the same number from Newnham, and Miss Hughes brought about twelve from the Training College. Miss Buss and I each took down a party, and there were plenty of men from the various colleges.

“I well remember the interest taken by Miss Buss in the arrangements, and her distress because Girton and Newnham would not extend the time for their students, who were obliged to leave us at 10.30, which, of course, broke up our party, since we were left with fifty men to ten girls, as Miss Hughes took hers away when the other colleges went.”

There is a little note from Miss Buss in reference to this party, in which she says—

“I find I have made a mistake in the date; February 25 is in Lent. In any case, the dance cannot be managed before Easter.

“Have you seen Punch? There is a small young lady who, when accused by her mother of being ‘stupid,’ says, ‘No, I am only inattentive!’ Let me hope my mistake was like the child’s!”

345Mrs. Hill, who knew the Cambridge life well, says of it—

“She seemed most in her element, so to say, when she was at Cambridge. I went with her ten or twelve times, and she was always most anxious that her young people should have the best time possible. If necessary, she would herself chaperon us to breakfast, lunch, tea, coffee, in the Undergraduate’s rooms, and (what added to the pleasure) she enjoyed going. Twice she gave a dance, when she made a delightful hostess.”

It is also in reference to this phase of her life that Mrs. Bryant gives this pretty picture of Miss Buss—

“Her sympathy with young people was by no means limited to the serious side of things, or to her own remembered experiences. Her imagination, with the tender, happiness-loving heart behind, held her in touch with all the innocent gaieties, and even vanities of youth. Many will remember her pleasant parties at Cambridge, including some dances, and the delightful way in which she acted the part of motherly chaperon, never tired, never in a hurry to get to the end, never distressed by those modifications in the order and punctuality of meals which youth regards as a normal part of merry-making. Respecting the vanities, I remember telling her on one occasion that my niece was going to her first ‘grown-up’ dance. ‘There are such pretty shoes nowadays for girls,’ she said, ‘I hope you have got her something very pretty. A girl’s first dance comes only once.’”

Miss Newman tells a similar tale of a time when, as they were together at Matlock, Miss Buss asked her to help choose some amber for a birthday present, asking her opinion and advice. Miss Newman had no idea that Miss Buss knew that the next day was her birthday; but when the birthday came she found the amber on her table, with a card of good wishes.

Mrs. Bryant says also that—

“when boys were in question, her sympathy was even more delightful. In her family experience, boys had predominated, though she had always been a girl-like girl, not given to participation 346in boys’ games. Her tolerance for boys, their muddy boots and disturbing household ways, was quite unlimited, though doubtless, and probably for that very reason, no boy of her circle would have thought of disobeying her. I have spent more than one happy holiday with her and her nephews in the country, and know how to appreciate her rare sympathy with our more athletic ideas of pleasure, and the ease with which her plans would fall in with ours. Once I was with her in Killarney, and wanted to climb Carn-Tual. ‘I want to go for a climb to-morrow,’ she said. ‘It will suit me excellently to drive to the foot of your mountain, and there will be plenty to amuse me while you go up.’”

Her intensity of vital power kept her in touch with all young life. The strong love of little children, which was one of her most marked characteristics, was only the lovely blossoming of this vigorous growth; nothing refreshed her more, when she was tired of work, or worn with worries, than to have a “baby-show” of her nephews and nieces in their day, and then of their children and the children of old pupils. She liked just a few at a time, so that she might thoroughly enjoy them, when she would herself get out toys from her stores, watching the play while she and the mothers told stories of child wit and wisdom. One of her very latest pleasures in life was the visit of a little new namesake—a tiny “Frances Mary,” who will rejoice in the name though she can have no memory of the kind face that brightened at the sight of her baby ways—and one of her last quite coherent remarks was an inquiry for “little curly-head,” as she called her nephew’s little son.

Here is a characteristic little story told by Mrs. Pierson—

“At the house of an old friend the other day I met a young married lady with her baby. We were talking of Miss Buss, and she said, ‘I only saw her once, when I was five years old, but I have never forgotten her. She saved me from a cruel nurse who 347ran away from me, and hid in the coal-yards near Chalk Farm Station, while I cried because I was lost. A lady came by and took my hand and comforted me and asked me where I lived. “Near some mountains—red mountains,” I said, and her quick perception divined that I meant some new houses being built near Primrose Hill. She took me in the direction of Oppidan’s Road, where I soon recognized my home; and, after her interview with my mother, I need not say the nurse had to leave.’”

It is delightful to read Miss Buss’ holiday letters about the children, who were often with their aunt while their parents went for rest and change. While the world was standing in awe of the “eminent educationalist” she was inditing sweet letters full of babytalk, of wise counsel hid in nonsense, or of the affection of which her heart was so full—


My dear little Mother,

“Oh! what a boy is ours! to talk about ‘jolly’! Naughty little monkey! We want a three-year old, not a grown-up boy. Kiss him thousands of times for his loving Arnie, whose heart goes out to him twenty times a day at least. She pictures to herself, over and over again, the sweet little shy face on the pier, and her boy waiting to throw himself into her arms when she lands.

“I went last night to see Léonie, more especially to get a kiss of Nina.”

“Stockholm, August 30, 1871.

My dear little Mother,

“You do not deserve, by the way, to be the mother of sons! You want sweet little goody children—girls—who will sit still, and be made fine, always do what they are told (in public!), never make a noise, and be clever, well-informed children, who will answer any question (provided it be given in the form printed in their books), write beautifully, and spell splendidly! Thank goodness! ‘my’ child is not one of those dear darling little humbugs. Why, I am quite proud of his writing, and his spelling wants time, of course. How many of Miss F.’s class spell better than he? None, of course. Nor do Nina and May-May spell better. Their 348French bothers them. Frank is a sensible, well-informed lad for his age, and, above all, he has a desire for knowledge. Education is not reading and writing, but means a desire to acquire information. As for Arthur, he is a darling; kiss him for his Arnie.”


“My dear darling ba-lamb (lioness rather) sister, I hunger and thirst after you and our boy to a painful degree. It is very distressing, but as I grow older I find my heart-strings are really pulled violently by a select few. It is quite painful to have a heart and feel its existence.

“God bless you all, prays your loving sister




“A true friend is one that makes us do all we can; those who trust us, educate us.”

“To have friends one must be a friend,” was true of this life on both sides. She was a friend, and she had friends in abundance. Of her women-friends we have had full proof, and we may count almost as many men who mourn her loss with feeling scarcely less intense. Many who are less known to fame will echo words like these from some of the leaders in education. The Bishop of Winchester writes of her as “one of the truest, wisest, and ablest women it has ever been my privilege to know and esteem as a friend.” Dr. W. G. Bell, of Cambridge, adds, “Only those who had the privilege of being called her friend realized how faithful she was to her friendships, as well as loyal to the work which was so dear to her.” Dr. Wormell, on hearing of the fatal nature of her illness, speaks from a full heart—

“The news you give me fills me with sadness. Miss Buss gave me her helping hand and cheering smile when I had few friends, and had scarcely crept from obscurity. It is not easy for me to say what is the depth and length and breadth of my affection for her—in all dimensions it is beyond measure. I grieve as one who suffers irreparable loss, and can scarcely ask myself what of others who have been closer to her?”

350Dr. Hiron says that—

“illness prevents the privilege of joining those who will gather in large numbers to do her honour. But though not present in person I shall be with them in spirit, and in the hearty desire to give to her of the fullest appreciation of her personal qualities and of her great services to the cause of education, particularly of the higher education of women.

“I first met her at Dr. Hodgson’s, nearly twenty-five years ago. For many years I saw a great deal of her, especially at the time when I was secretary of the Girls’ Public Day School Company. From the first I was profoundly impressed by her insight into educational problems, but, most of all, by her devotion, heart and soul, to the work to which she had put her hand.”

Mr. Storr speaks not only as an educationalist but as a friend—

“I mourn a very old and very true friend. I always felt with her that, differ as we might—and we often differed on educational politics—she was absolutely single-eyed, and her judgment was never warped by personal ambition or arrière pensée. My girls, as you know, were greatly attached to her, and I owe her much as having set them the example of a noble-minded, generous, great-souled woman.”

Her influence over young men, the friends of her nephews, or brothers of her pupils, was very remarkable, and it would not be easy to count the number who can add to the words of one of the college friends of the Rev. Francis F. Buss—

“To me your aunt’s friendship was a most valued privilege, and I owe very much to her both on account of her personal influence over me, and the many pleasant friendships she made for me; and last, but not least, that she was one of the first people to introduce me to ladies’ society at all.”

Her letters to her nephew while at Cambridge quite explain this influence. She was not in the least afraid of young men, but was her own real true self always, 351thus touching the reality below their surface pretences. Here is one of her grave letters—

“I am very deep in work, but I manage to find time for you, and to think of you and your approaching ordination. You are about to take the most serious step in your life, and I hope and pray that it may be blessed to you and to those among whom you may have to work during the rest of your life. It is a noble profession, but one that entails much self-control and self-sacrifice. But if you think chiefly of the work to which you are called, and not of yourself, you will be useful and happy. You must not think too much about what people may say or think of you, but simply do your work faithfully and leave the results. You are disposed to mind ‘Mrs. Grundy’ too much, my very dear boy, but this is not a good thing if carried to excess. To be careful in imagination, to put one’s self into the place of another, is right, but this is the opposite of minding ‘Mrs. Grundy.’”

These letters are full of wisdom as well as of tender thoughtfulness. She wanted him to profit to the full by the advantages which she esteemed so highly.

“At Cambridge, more than anywhere else,” she says (for the moment forgetting Oxford), “is to be found the highest product, so far, of human civilization. Men there get the highest culture ever yet attained, and the ‘Dons’ are also the most finished gentlemen. There is an indescribable something in the bearing, air, tone of voice even, of a Cambridge man which I believe he never loses all his life. But the men are most courteous towards women: that is one distinct mark of their training. I have never heard a rough word nor seen a rough act towards women, and I want you to become such a man as the best men in your University.”

At the same time she is interested in the smallest details of the new life, as when she writes—

“It was a great delight to me to see you in your rooms. But the sofa is rather shabby. Shall I send you an Afghan rug to throw over it? Tell me. Perhaps you would rather choose one for yourself?”

But of all the friends of whom she thought and for whom she cared time would fail to tell. Her sky was full of “bright particular stars,” each moving in its own 352orbit. Perhaps her regard may have been most fixed by the “double-stars,” of which there were many brilliant examples. Her “dual friendships” seemed to have doubled strength and joy for her. It was either that her friends married to please her as well as each other, or that she could at the same time include divergent characters; but all her life she was singularly happy in her married friends.

Her ideal of family life was high, as we see from an interesting letter written from Bonaly in September, 1877—

“As I travelled here, on Tuesday, by way of Kendal and Carlisle, my mind was full of you. You remember our journey together to Edinburgh? I left Salisbury, on Monday, in a dreadful storm of rain. It is much colder here. Along the road, it was quite sorrowful to see the sheaves of corn standing in water! Whole fields, too, are lying under water.

“During my railway journey here, and one last Saturday to Cheltenham, I read ‘Kingsley’s Life.’ It is intensely interesting, and is to me like a strong tonic. It braces one up and leaves strength behind. How he suffered in middle life, and how bravely he bore up, under undeserved blame, is all told, and how loving, tender, and faithful he was as a husband.

“His married life is a beautiful poem. Mrs. Kingsley was everything to him. For her sake, he revered all womanhood. One of his children speaks of the happy evenings at Eversley Rectory when ‘father sat with his hand in mother’s,’ and poured out his brave, strong words for wife and children only.

“I esteem it one of the proud moments in my life, when Canon Kingsley thought it worth while to stand and talk with Miss Chessar and me about our school, and expressed his wish to visit us—a wish never fulfilled. His life is so much more after my heart than Harriet Martineau’s, which I have also been looking at. Her strictures on men and women are so harsh—there was little love and tenderness in her nature, and she seems always to say hard things—things which leave a sting behind. I shudder at her absence of all belief, and wonder how she could bear life after ceasing to believe in a personal God and immortality. Kingsley’s life is an antidote to hers.”

353In early days Mr. and Mrs. Laing held equal rank in her regard. Then her brothers—her friends as well as kin—gave her dear friends as well as loved sisters in their wives. Here is a pretty little note which was written on their wedding-day to Mr. and Mrs. Septimus Buss, addressed to “Dear old boy—Dear little ‘coz.’” After describing the later events of the wedding-day, she says of the wife of the vicar—

“Mrs. N. is a dear! She said she was much interested in your wedding, as she had a hand in it, and liked old Sep, and she spoke so nicely about him in particular, and things in general, that I fell in love with her; and then, to complete her victory, she admired Léonie, my dear ‘old’ sister. Now, did she not go the right way to win me for ever?”

She had not lost this sprightly style in writing, in 1873, of the change which took the Rev. Septimus Buss from the chaplaincy of St. Pancras Workhouse to the Rectory of Wapping—

“‘Many a time and oft’ have I thought of you and wished to be a bird, that I might fly to you. But even you cannot guess what the last fortnight has been!

“I was dictating this morning ‘du déplorable sort des choses humaines, qui veut qu’au succès social soient toujours mêlées des disgrâces, et que nos joies soient toujours accompagnées de tristesses.’

“My dear boy Sep has a living offered him by the bishop—at last! The great desire of my heart (outside the work—well, no!—inside everything) has been to see him out of the workhouse! Well, he is to go to Wapping.... How true it is that nothing is simple and single....”

In 1881 she writes to the Rev. Septimus Buss on his transference to the Vicarage of Shoreditch—

“I am so thankful to know of your promotion. You both deserve it, for you are model parish chiefs. Shoreditch must be very poor, judging from the little one sees in passing through it—only I suppose it is not damp. Dear little mother, I hope you will like the place. Anyhow, it is better than Wapping.”

354Of another dual friendship we have a charming glimpse in a note to Dr. J. G. Fitch, in response to the gift of his first book—

“Since seeing you, I have looked at the dedication, and am much touched by it.

“It is a great privilege and happiness to know such a home as yours.

“Lately, I have been talking to my young people about women’s duties, and I quoted Mills’ dedication to ‘Liberty,’ De Toqueville’s tribute to his wife, and others. Yours is but another example of the wife’s ‘work and counsel’ which enables a man to do and ‘write things useful.’

“I thank you most warmly for the book itself, for the kind words with which it was accompanied, and I also thank you for the dedication, because, through the ‘dearest wife,’ it is a tribute to all women.”

Also in the home of Dr. and Mrs. Hodgson, she found full scope for the strong element of romance which never died out of her nature. Some part of her holiday was always spent with them, and she expanded to the full in these congenial surroundings. They lived for a time in London; then at Bournemouth, where Mrs. Hodgson went to be near her father, Sir Joshua Walmsley; and finally at Bonaly, when Dr. Hodgson filled the Chair of Economic Science in Edinburgh, each home being more charming than the last.

She first writes of these visits to me in 1872—

“My Bournemouth visit has been most pleasant, as indeed my visits to Mrs. Hodgson always are. She is one of the most lovable, loving, and unselfish women I know, and her home-life is a constant lesson. She is one of those whom I dearly love, and who are necessary to me. Yet, seven years ago, I did not know her. Her father’s illness and death have tried her much lately, and Dr. Hodgson’s absence in Edinburgh throws much responsibility on her.”

In 1858, Dr. Hodgson was Assistant-Commissioner 355on the First Royal Commission of Inquiry into Primary Education, and he probably became interested in Miss Buss in connection with her evidence before the Secondary Commission, in 1865. After that date, he gave his lectures on Physiology and Political Economy in her school, and acquaintance ripened into friendship. Three thick note-books, in her own writing, testify to her interest in the lectures, as well as to her indomitable energy and industry.

In 1873, she says—

“The temptation to go to Bradford is immense. My dear friend, Dr. Hodgson, who has done more for me intellectually than any man, except Mr. Laing, in my whole life, is president! But to go from Friday to Monday would hardly be of any use, would it? And I could not be absent a week. Can we find out when the papers are read?

“I am so driven! It is really dreadful, and I feel so weary that I can hardly bear myself. But when the machine is once wound up and set going, I get better.

“I fear that Bradford meeting will clash with our Board meeting. October 8th, is it not? Our meeting will be very important, and I must have hours of leisure to compare the schemes and annotate them.”

During Dr. Hodgson’s residence in London, before going to Bournemouth, his house was full of interest to Miss Buss, taking the same place in her life as Mr. Laing’s had done as a meeting-point for persons with whom she was in sympathy. Dr. Hiron mentions one eventful dinner-party, which began the friendship between Mr. and Mrs. Fitch and Miss Buss, as well as with himself.

There are a few words to her sister, which show the influence of Dr. Hodgson from 1865, and onwards—


“Miss Davies has asked me to meet Miss Clough of Ambleside (who drew up a plan for co-operation among teachers), Miss 356Bostock, and other educational ladies. I cannot help feeling that our new friend, to whom I am so devoted and grateful, has had greatly to do with my position lately. It is almost indefinable, but it would seem as if he had set a stamp on me, so to speak. Certainly the Cambridge Examination did something—introduced me to him, for example—but it is only since Christmas that so many little courtesies have been paid me, officially, I mean. Only one other person so helped me.”

In some early letters we have descriptions of life at Bonaly Tower, which indicate the kind of letters she might have written if life had been less hurried—

“Newcastle-on-Tyne, Jan. 7, 1873.

“I liked Mr. Knox quite as much last Wednesday. He gave me a hearty welcome, and asked most affectionately for you. From what Dr. Hodgson says, he is not doing so much on the Merchants’ Company Schools as he was. I lunched at Mr. Pryde’s house, and then went with him and Mrs. Pryde to the ‘Women’s Medical Educational Meeting.’ For the first time I heard Miss Jex-Blake speak; she spoke well. Mr. P. seems sensible and liberal in his ideas. When you and I were in Edinburgh, it seems Mrs. P. and two of their children had scarlet fever, and he himself was in lodgings, away from ‘his own fireside.’ Mrs. P. is quite ‘advanced,’ and, as her husband said, ‘is the most refractory parent’ he has to do with. ‘She was always wanting something’ (he said before her), ‘or not wanting something else.’ She did not like her girls to learn so much writing or sewing, for instance. Their second girl is to be brought up for medicine. So, you see, Mr. and Mrs. P. must be advanced.

“One day last week, we, i.e. Mrs. H., Dr. H., and I went to lunch with Mrs. MacLaren. Mr. M. is Member for Edinburgh, and Mrs. and Miss M., as you will perhaps remember, are working for the Women’s Suffrage. I met there Dr. Guthrie’s youngest son, a very fine young man, who made a strong impression on me. He is evidently as fine in mind as in person.”

In speaking of her visits, she had always much to say of the interesting persons whom she met at Bonaly, and of the talk she so thoroughly appreciated, well described under the heading, “The Professor at the 357Breakfast-Table,” in Mr. Meiklejohn’s “Life of Dr. Hodgson,” as—

“the sparkling table-talk, apt illustration, and racy anecdote with which the doctor enlivened all the time we sat at table. Without monopolizing the talk, he never allowed it to flag; and by manifesting the kindliest interest in the sayings and doings of all, he induced even the shyest to take his part in a manner that must have astonished him when he came to look back upon it.”

Mrs. Hodgson, too, had so much grace and kindness that even this shyest of her guests was made so much at home as to be “led to imagine that he must have sat in that particular corner hundreds of times before, though now for the first time conscious of it.”

Another of Miss Buss’ letters (Sept. 8, 1874) gives an account of the place itself—

“Bonaly, Sept. 8, 1874.

“Edinburgh, to me, is full of you! So you have been constantly in my mind since my arrival here, last Friday night.

“Bonaly is five miles out of Edinburgh, but, on a clear day, there is a splendid view of town, castle, and Arthur’s Seat. Only, a ‘clear day’ is not a common article, for, since Friday, I have seen little external sunshine, though, inside, there is plenty. But Mrs. Hodgson herself is confined to bed, and looks so fragile that a breath might blow her away. We trust, however, that she ‘has turned the corner,’ as the doctor says she may be taken into another room to-day....

“This house is beautifully situated in twenty-eight acres of its own grounds, and there are hills upon hills all round, except on the Edinburgh side. Two tiny mountain ‘burns,’ or streams, run through the grounds, with that constant blue haze over them—a touch of beauty which we got rarely in the Alps. In these northern latitudes, it seems to me that there never is the clear, cloudless sky which we know as the Italian, but there is another kind of beauty—that of the greyish-blue haze which envelopes everything with a soft and indescribably beautiful mantle.

“In consequence of Mrs. Hodgson’s health, I left my dear boy at home, but if he had come, he and George (Dr. H.’s son) would have been happy together.

358“Mr. Knox is expected here on Thursday. He has been asked to meet me, and I hope he will come. How much you and I liked him. Miss Blyth is also invited.

“I am writing in the midst of snatches of talk, which makes it difficult to know what I am writing, but you will not mind jerky sentences, with no particular thread of connection?...

“There is a capital article on Woman’s Suffrage in this month’s Macmillan; it is by Prof. Cairnes, in answer to Goldwin Smith’s attack. You do not care so much for this question as I do, so will scarcely feel the same interest in it.

“Is Agnes pretty well? What is she doing, I wonder? Will you give her my dear love when you write? There is a very charming letter from Miss Hierta to me, which shall be sent to you when I know where you are. What a very sweet woman she is!

“My Hythe holiday was very pleasant; we were such a large family party. Did I tell you what darlings Frank’s brothers are? Arthur (six years old) is quite a picture of infant beauty, with his blue eyes and curly golden hair; and he says such funny things and makes droll mistakes. He rushed at me once, saying, ‘Arnie, look at my apostles!’ ‘Your what?’ ‘Apostles.’ I found he meant fossils!

“Another day he was reading: ‘And she sung a—a hullabaloo!’ He meant lullaby.

“Then the baby-boy, whose only experience of trees and green grass is the disused churchyard at Wapping, insisted on calling every green field and clump of trees a ‘nice churchyard!’ Was it not pathetic?

“If you are writing to Miss Hopkins, please remember me most kindly to her, and tell her I congratulate her on Miss Robinson’s success: no doubt she has largely contributed to it.

“I see Miss Robinson has gained her point, and there is really a Soldier’s Institute at Portsmouth. The military element is strong at Hythe, in the School of Musketry, and we can see how it is that the scarlet uniform and gold trimmings are so popular. To poor people the fine clothes and certain pay must be very attractive. Contrast the dress and appearance of an agricultural labourer with that of the labourer who has enlisted! And then think of the easy life of the latter. Do not fancy my estimate of soldiers is altered. I am looking at them from the point of view of the very poor, to whom to have a soldier son or brother must be a grand promotion.

“Mr. Knox came here on Thursday. I like him still very much, 359and he likes you and me. He asked most kindly after you. He also sent a copy of ‘A Night and Day on board the Mars’ to be forwarded to you, which I duly sent off. You know he is a staunch teetotaller, and is working desperately in the cause. He said he had known seventy-five men, of his own position, ruined by drink, and Dr. Hodgson told me afterwards that this was no exaggeration. The vice of drunkenness seems to prevail here more than in London, at least one hears more of it.

“Mr. Knox has nothing now to do with the Company’s schools, but has given himself up to rescuing boys (I asked him where were the girls?), and has been violently attacked for kidnapping them. An absurd charge, of course. I fear he is not cold and hardheaded, like the typical Scotchman. But, all the same, I like him whenever I see him.

“How true is what you say about the money matters of women! But we are breaking through many of these things, and a later generation of women will know what independence means. I hope they will use it properly, for, after all, we cannot be independent of each other. We have to live in a community.”

“Bonaly, Sept. 8, 1874.

“Your long and interesting letter has just come, dear Annie, after one from me to you is written, sealed up, and put in the post-bag.

“I will read the letter in the Spectator. It seems to me that Tyndall only says what you say, namely, that science, so far as he knows, cannot prove God and immortality. But I do not see why he need have said as much as he did, except that he is essentially aggressive.

“That people are unjust to him, I admit, and that this ignorance of his subject and injustice drive him to attack.”

“Bonaly, Sept. 14, 1874.

“I return Mr. S.’s letter, with which Dr. Hodgson was much amused, as was I. He admired J.’s poem, Vivia Perpetua, very much, and said how good and sweet it was. He also begged me to ask her whether she knows the ‘Vivia Perpetua’ of Mrs. Flower Adams, whose sister Sarah is well known for her hymns. He thought J.’s little poem might well do prefixed to the drama by Mrs. Adams.

“My dear Mrs. Hodgson is still in bed, where she lies so patiently that she is a living lesson to me. It is curious, but she 360always makes me feel gentle and soft—a lesson I constantly need, and no one else produces the same effect on me. Had I seen her before my interview with E. D., the latter would not have been frightened at my—what shall I say?—violence!

“You have a mesmerizing effect on me, but your influence is quite different—more on the intellectual side, I think. Mrs. Hodgson is the sweetest, brightest, most fairy-like woman I have ever known; and the points of contact between her and me are so many. I have such strong affection and respect for her husband—he is so clever, and inspires one with a kind of awe for his knowledge (which is in a line I can follow), his brilliancy, his wonderful power of expression, his tenderness, his extreme conscientiousness, and his resource. But no one would venture to take a liberty with him, and I can well imagine the respectful awe in which his pupils hold him. Then the eldest boy is so near Frank’s age, and I have had so much to do with him that he is very dear to me. The two little girls are perfectly charming.

“Then the house is full of books, pictures, statues, busts, etc. Every side of my taste is represented, and the books especially are always delightful to me. I suppose the collection of educational works is quite unique. Dr. H.’s religious views are very independent of theology; but, as I have said, he is intensely reverent, and respects other people’s opinions. His popularity with his Class in University is immense, as I heard on Saturday, and I can well understand it is so.

“Mrs. H. is one of those women who is absolutely unselfish. Her unselfishness extends beyond husband and children, and she can always speak that soft word that turns away wrath. They are well matched. She is dependent and clinging, in the best sense, and he is intensely strong....

“I should like some copies of J.’s ‘Lady Jane Grey.’ Will you give her my love and ask her?

“When I get home I must get a copy of ‘Hertha’ from Mudie’s. I know there is one there.

“I shall get back (D.V.) refreshed in every way—intellectually, physically and morally, and spiritually too, I hope.”

In 1880 came the end of this bright chapter of her life. The death of Dr. Hodgson brought back the sufferings of the earlier loss in 1860, when Mr. Laing’s death left so great a blank. Between 1875 and 1880 361Miss Buss had lost her father, and Mr. and Mrs. Payne, and now came the death of Dr. Hodgson and Miss Chessar in the same month, to all of whom she had been linked not only by the ordinary ties of life, in more than ordinary strength, but also by very special sympathy in her personal work.

Extracts from her letters tell their own story. She and Dr. Hodgson, with Miss Chessar, Miss Caroline Haddon, Miss Franks, and some others, had gone to a great educational congress held in Brussels, in which many of them were to take active part. On August 21 Miss Buss writes to her sister—

“A very pleasant journey yesterday. The water quite smooth, and hardly any one ill. We are at present fourteen people and are shaking down. I am now going to the Bureau to get my ticket for the Teachers’ Conference, and then to the Exhibition.”

“Aug. 23.

“I am sorry to tell you that Dr. Hodgson is very ill. He has had to come to our place, as really he could not be left. I am now writing for an English doctor. If necessary, I must telegraph to Mrs. Hodgson, or, if possible, must return with him to London, telegraphing for her to meet him. It is very sad. He thinks it is some heart affection, but no one can tell till the doctor has been.”

“Aug. 24.

“Dr. H. is so ill that it is feared he will die.

“I have telegrammed to Mrs. Hodgson, but she cannot get here till to-night at the earliest. I have been praying most earnestly that he may live to see her. His lungs are congested, and he breathes just as our father used to do.

“I have now been with him thirty hours, but a most kind and experienced teacher, Mr. Harris, a friend of Miss Haddon’s, is chief nurse.”

On August 17, before leaving Edinburgh, Dr. Hodgson had written to his friend Mr. A. Ireland—

“My courage fails me as the time draws near for going to Belgium. For the first time in my life the thought of illness away 362from home hangs upon me. I have had queer sensations and pains in the heart.... The educational conference lasts from the 22nd to 29th inst. I have just received a huge 8vo. volume of 1000 pages, and 3 lbs. 9½ ozs. in weight, containing preliminary reports for the six sections into which the conference is divided.”

While in London he consulted a medical man, who assured him that he was suffering only from indigestion.

But the fatigue and heat of travelling brought on attack after attack of angina pectoris, and on the evening of August 24 the end came.

Of this terrible three days Miss Buss writes—

“I do not think there has ever been so awful a time in my life; in other griefs my brothers were by my side, and able to help. In this, everything has fallen on me, and in a foreign country, too. Had it not been for Miss C. Haddon and Mr. Harris it would not have been physically possible for me to bear what I have had to go through. Also the girls of my party were very helpful.

“Dear Mrs. Hodgson does not, as she says, at present understand things. It is a dream to her: she arrived just twelve hours too late.

“It is too real to me to be a dream; his dear voice is still sounding in my ears; he was so patient and so grateful, thanking us all each time we gave him seltzer-water, etc.

“But I had no idea of death till within a few hours of the end.

“I was with him just thirty-seven hours. He called for me at five o’clock on Monday morning. I went at once and gave him some brandy, and then sent for the doctor while Miss Chessar stayed with him.

“Dearest mother, I long to have you and my boy safe in my arms—to make sure of you both.

“How I loved my dear friend no words can express. How glad I was to have him as my guest, and to travel with him! Such an opportunity had never occurred before.”

From this date some part of Miss Buss’ holiday was always spent with Mrs. Hodgson, whose own words, after her friend had been taken from her, show what this friendship was to her also,

363“You ask me to tell you something of my friendship with Miss Buss. I could only do so by giving you a long list of kindnesses received from her, kindnesses which made one wonder how a woman leading such a busy life could remember such things as birthdays, not only of one’s own, but of one’s children and grandchildren, none of whom were ever forgotten. The terrible anxiety she went through at Brussels in 1880, during the Educational Congress there, must have told heavily on her nerves, already sorely taxed. My husband went with her to Brussels, and when she found him ill and suffering at his hotel, she took him to her lodgings and gave up one of her rooms, which at that time were very difficult to get, Brussels being very full, and devoted herself to nursing him night and day for the short and fatal illness. I can never tell you of all she went through to help me, but can only say that when we arrived at Bonaly Tower, near Edinburgh, where we brought our beloved, she was very ill, the result of what she had gone through, not only to nurse her old friend, but when all was over to help and comfort me, utterly forgetful of self. Ever since that sad time she has been more than a sister to me. I fear now I took advantage of her wonderful goodness, her wise judgment, her strict sense of justice, her unselfishness, and learned more and more to consult her, who was the friend and helper of all who stood in need of help. To me her loss is irreparable, and I believe I am only one of a great many who went to her in times of trouble.”

But this sorrowful experience was not the only grief of that year, for Miss Chessar never left Brussels again, surviving Dr. Hodgson less than a month. She had not been strong, but no one had in the least anticipated anything serious, and this second blow, following so closely on the first, greatly affected Miss Buss, who thus lost by one stroke the two persons who were the greatest help and strength in her work. Like herself, they were both teachers of remarkable power, and the three friends had set themselves to raise the general standard of teaching, while at the same time their sympathies in other directions cemented a close friendship.

The force of this double loss is given very clearly in 364the replies from Mrs. Grey and Miss Shirreff to letters from Miss Buss, these letters themselves not being attainable—

“Sept. 20, 1880.

My dear Miss Buss,

“It was only yesterday that we heard, from Miss Brough, of the death of Miss Chessar, and I write in both our names to express our deep and affectionate sympathy with you in this second, and, I fear, even heavier loss, coming so soon after Dr. Hodgson’s death. Our own sense of loss is very heavy; though we knew her so little in private life, she had inspired us with real and warm personal regard, besides admiration for her remarkable powers. We are anxious that a fitting obituary notice should appear in the Journal, if it is not already done, and have written to Miss Brough to get it done. Will you help her to do full justice to your common friend? And please, whenever you have a moment’s leisure, let us hear how you are yourself.

“It grieves us to hear how your sorely needed holiday has been turned into a day of sadness and mourning by these two deaths. Dr. Hodgson’s must have been such a terrible shock, and from its circumstances have brought upon you so much to try you, in addition to the personal loss. We women have lost in him a friend such as we shall not see again, and he was one of the few left in this dull generation who could fight with wit as well as earnestness, and had always a good story to clinch an argument.

“I cannot hear of all the good work going on without a pang at being so unable to join in any of it, and all my idleness and care of my useless self has not brought me any nearer, that I can see or feel, towards ever joining in it again!... We go to Florence and then to Rome, where I hope we shall see you in the Christmas holidays. With love from us both, ever, dear Miss Buss,

“Your affectionate

Maria G. Grey.”

In November, Mrs. Grey writes again—

“Your letter made us very sad. The loss of two such friends as Dr. Hodgson and Miss Chessar coming upon you under such circumstances, and so close together, was enough to break you down utterly, but, as you do not mention your health, we trust it did not 365suffer. We cannot help hoping that the distressing effect will have worn away enough to let your old elasticity of spirits and love of Rome restore you, and that we may yet have the pleasure of welcoming you here at Christmas.”

Miss Buss had written to say that Rome was not possible for this year, and in response Miss Shirreff speaks of one part of her letter—

“How true is what you say of the terrible void in one’s life from the loss of early friends, but, believe me, dear Miss Buss, later friendships may become very close and dear, and you are far indeed from having overpast the age for making them. Those to whom mental sympathy has always been the strong, if not the strongest, link in friendship, have in this case a great advantage over others, because, while we outlive other and lighter needs of our nature, the need for mental companionship never is lost, and this enjoyment can never cease to give, after close affection, the truest zest to life. It is therefore never too late to meet with it, though we become slower in discerning it when it exists. But you have not reached that point, and with the full vigour of mental faculty you are ready to seize the full enjoyment of what responds to your own nature. In hours of sorrow we are so apt to feel the burden of years that we acquiesce too readily in the privations they seem to bring.

“I hope your quiet holiday-time spent with your old friend will send you back strengthened and hopeful to your work. I cannot express how much we feel your goodness in having added to it the guidance of this new school (the Maria Grey Training School) through its difficult early years. Mrs. Grey joins in love, and says she will write another day.

“Ever affectionately yours,

Emily A. Shirreff.”

The visit to Mrs. Hodgson during the holidays did much to comfort them both, and to strengthen the bond that never relaxed to the end. The very latest pleasure of Miss Buss’ life, in the bright interval that preceded the fatal illness, was a visit at Myra from this loved and loving friend.



“One who never turned his back, but marched straightforward; Never doubted clouds would break; Never deemed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph; Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, Sleep to wake!”

R. Browning.

Strangers might easily receive the impression that Miss Buss was one of those happy persons who, being blessed with an iron constitution, do not know what illness means. This was, however, very far from the fact; for with a temperament so intensely sensitive, she was in reality one of the women who can be as ill as they choose to be; and a good deal of her apparent vigour lay in the strength of the will which elected not to be ill. “Great minds have wills, where feeble ones have wishes.” It was just because she so well knew what could be done by self-control that she exacted so much self-control from all around her. From experience she knew how largely the body may be made the instrument of the spirit, and for much of her time she kept going by sheer force of that indomitable will.

It was because she carried this effort too far, in exacting from her woman’s strength the work that might have contented several strong men, that she grew old before her time, and finally broke down, paying 367the price of overstrain for some years before the end came.

All that we can hear of her early life gives the impression of perfect temper, of unfailing composure, of unbroken self-command. It is only in later years, when her great work was completed, that we find the nervous irritability that is the price paid for over-work, or, more truly, of over-worry, since it is not work that kills, but worry.

So much did all around her rely on her strength and vigour that it is with surprise we note the recurrence in her letters of such passages as these, even so many years ago:—

“September, 1872.

“It is simply sickening to think of the crowds who come to me, and I have been so ailing in health that I have only managed to get along at all by sitting with Berlin woolwork in the evening, going to no meetings, and getting to bed at ten o’clock. Also, though to tell you this is dreadful, I have got through this week only on champagne twice a day, with doses of iron!

“The champagne has, I trust, done its work and set me up, so I hope to go on without any more until next time! My throat has been affected without intermission this term, and the sleepless nights have almost driven me to opiates or to a doctor. But I think I am better, and the holidays are coming near.

“This is the history of every term, however, and the question will arise, how long such a strain can be borne? I do my best to keep in health, but over-strained nature will have her way sometimes. This is perhaps a new light on my inner life. But, my dear Annie, remember every one thinks I am a proper person on whom to make claims....”

This inability to meet claims to which she would so gladly have given full space was a very wearing part of the overcrowding of her life. Here is a regret that she was compelled to seem to neglect a friend for whom she would have done anything in her power:—

“Her letter pains me, in a sense, because I know how heavy is the trial of waiting and doing nothing when there is the will to 368work. If only I had some leisure I might go to her and talk with her.

“But I can give nothing except to those who can come to me, and not always, or even often, then. Do not say anything. As the work goes on, we may see a way to keep her interested in, and cognizant of, our part of it.

“I had no idea of how much she had cared for me in the past days, and it is very touching to know it.”

“March, 1873.

“... I hope you have not been thinking harshly of me for not answering your note or calling, but if you have, you must in imagination take my place, which is at all times fit to be occupied by ten ordinary women, but which, at the end of the school year, with all the examinations and prizes, is large enough for twenty.”

“December 9, 1873.

“I am going to bed now (eight o’clock), and hope to be better for a night’s rest.

“Here I am again a prisoner in my room! A sore throat is the main cause....

“But I am generally out of sorts. I am learning that I cannot do as I used, and that body will dominate mind and will.

“I fear you are no better. You had my news? It seems to me quite foolish for me to be ill and unable to do my work when the path became suddenly clear, and all so quiet too!...

“Dearest Annie, my love to you. Lately I have often seemed to want you, but I have never been so long and so completely broken down—except there was organic disease, when I had fever—as I have this term, and therefore unable to go to you.

“There is a lecture at the College of Preceptors to-morrow night, on ‘English as a Means of Philological Instruction,’ by Dr. Morris—the Morris. 7.30. Could you go? If so, could you join me here a few minutes before seven? Only Miss Fawcett is going.

“I am better in myself, but cannot yet stand upright or walk about. Patience is teaching me a great lesson, and I hope I am learning it, in part, at least.

“... I really think there have never been so many petty worries crowded together.

“It is all very well for men to say ‘never mind.’ However, what is to be will be, and strength comes with the need.

“I am much better in health. Why, do you think? I went 369on Saturday to my uncle’s perfectly quiet house, and out of the 48 hours slept 25!—2½ hours each afternoon, and 10 hours each night.

“I am feeling so much better to-day—I slept well last night. But one of the distressing signs of over-work is disturbed and light sleep, and my brain is so constantly at work in day-time that I need deep sleep. So cause and effect act and react.

“My heart has been wrung too by Mr. Payne’s death. Life seems so full of anguish as one gets older, that at times I seem to have no power of being bright and cheerful.”

In addition to the regular work of the school, and all the claims of outside work and of pupils and friends, there was a large amount of wear and tear inevitable in any undertaking on so vast a scale. There was also much that was painful connected with the success of the public movement, so far as it affected small private schools or the work of ordinary governesses, who all seemed to urge some moral claim to compensation. It was impossible for the kind heart not to suffer even when the clear head denied the validity of the cause of the suffering, as in this letter in reference to one such case:—

“I wonder dear A. does not remember that when a man makes a new invention, and thereby ruins many individuals, he is not expected to compensate them.

“They suffer in the interests of the greater number, and, if wise, direct their efforts towards working the new invention or improving on it. This may seem cruel, but it is not so in the end. There is no reason, human or divine, why A. B. C., etc., should put aside a direct benefit to themselves and others in order to prevent Z. from turning his attention to some other field of work than that he already occupies. It is certain that three hundred girls in one school want as much teaching as thirty girls in ten schools—only they want different teaching.

“Moral—the big school displaces labour, but does not crush it.”

In the mere fact of success itself there was trial enough in many ways. The intensity of her feeling might be sometimes out of due proportion to the cause 370of suffering, but none the less did she suffer acutely. At the time of greatest triumph—the opening of the new schools in 1879—there chanced to be one example which gave rise to an outbreak of indignation on her part, letting us see how much had hitherto been hidden even from her friends. Of this incident she writes—

“It is of no use to try to please people! I do not mean to try. I will do what seems to me right, and then learn to be content to be abused, if I can! What with every one’s ‘claims,’ and with people’s ‘rights’ to a seat, always the best!—friends, family, parents, old pupils, etc., it is all the same! Every one is dissatisfied, do what one will; some one else is preferred, some one is neglected.... And so the stings go on, till I nearly break down under the wounds they inflict. When barely able to get about again through the work, I hear of my neglect, etc., of one to whom, in my heart of hearts, it never occurred to me as possible that any one could accuse me of ingratitude.

“Pray forgive me, dear Annie, but you can never know the bitter price one pays for success. I think it as heavy as that of failure! This has stirred up a depth of scorn and anger of which I feel ashamed, though I feel almost ashamed, too, of the race of beings to which I belong.

“I do not know whether it will do any good to have it out, so to speak, with you. I fear perhaps it will worry you. But as I have written it, it shall go, and I hope you and I shall meet next Saturday, when the keenness of the stroke has passed. I do not, however, think that just now I can write to our friends. I should not wish to pain them, so silence will be my best refuge. Do not please say anything. I will fight my fight out with myself alone.

“God’s law of compensation comes in; He will neither suffer one to be unduly elated nor depressed.

“It is part of our discipline in life that we should constantly fail, and I earnestly hope that I may be permitted to try and try again.

“But the old days have gone, and it would be better as well as easier for me for no visitors to be allowed to enter except the few on the platform and the mothers of girls taking prizes high in the school.

“Trying to please every one, and to recognize his or her rights, 371is not of the least use. Like the miller in the fable, one only succeeds in pleasing no one.

“There is so much to be grateful and thankful for that I am really ashamed of myself for feeling vexed. I have not told you half the vexations to which people subject me, certainly not because I ignore them, but because by trying to please it seems impossible to succeed.”

Earlier in this “year of triumph” there is a pathetic little note to her sister, showing how much stronger was the “domestic” than the public woman in her—

“February 18, 1879.

Dearest little Mother,

“Don’t be unhappy, but you did not think how much I miss your loving little hug and petting.

“No one pets me but you, and occasionally Mrs. Bryant. Darling boy allows me graciously to pet him, but he does not make advances to me.

“I want you sometimes, if only to look at!

“Where are we to go at Easter? I was thinking of Hastings. Let me know.

“Your very loving old

It is not necessary to say that no change really took place in Miss Buss’ endeavours to respond to even the most unreasonable of demands. When she met me at Ben Rhydding soon afterwards, she was just as sweet and bright as ever, and her nerves rapidly recovered tone again. This power of recuperation after even the severest strain was always remarkable, even to the very last. We had a striking proof of it in the spring of 1893, when Miss Buss joined my sister and me at Bordighera. We had tried to get her to take the complete rest of a whole winter abroad after her illness in the autumn before, holding out the attractions of Florence, Siena, and the Italian lakes. Every one wanted her to give up work for a time, and take the 372chance of real recovery. Our efforts were all wasted, and all she would do was to come, with her cousin, Miss Mary Buss, and a friend, late in the spring, stopping at various points in the Riviera on the way. She was far from well on her arrival, but a drive to San Remo in an open carriage on a windy day gave her a chill, followed by the inevitable attack of influenza. There was also a passing giddiness which gave us anxiety. She was certainly very ill for five days, with a threatening of pneumonia. But, thanks to her power of sleeping day and night, the attack passed off as rapidly as it had come on, when nothing we could say could persuade her that there had been ground for alarm; an opinion she maintained in the face of the most authoritative medical support of our view. On the Sunday she had certainly been very ill, but on Tuesday she would have been downstairs if we had not made too strong a protest. On Thursday, however, she insisted on starting for England, and accomplished the journey to London without a break, and apparently with no ill consequences.

She had already suffered from frequent attacks of influenza of a more or less serious character, leaving behind them more and more weakness. The first attack dated from the winter of 1889–90, when we were all in Rome together. I had suffered from what seemed a sudden sharp cold, but was nearly well when Miss Buss and her party arrived in Rome on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was very wet, and as my room was large and airy all assembled there for afternoon tea and talk, Miss Buss being full of fun and interest. But after a few days she and several others developed the same kind of cold, which, even then, we never identified with the mysterious disease of which every one heard so much that year. But for us both it proved the 373beginning of a series of attacks extending through the next four years. More than once when she was at the worst, I was too ill even to be told of it till the danger had passed. This was the case in the autumn of 1893, and I had been suffering during the summer, and able to see her only when she came to visit me.

It was during this summer that she finally moved from Myra Lodge to No. 87, next door, leaving the boarders with Miss Edwards. The door of communication was still left, that Miss Buss might see her friends and the girls when she felt able. She had her own companion, Miss Newman, and, later, Miss Millner; but Miss Edwards, having been so many years with her, still went often to see her. There seemed every prospect of years of rest and ease, amid a circle which could profit by her experience and wisdom.

There were all the inevitable delays, in getting into the new house, even though the workmen worked with all their hearts for an employer who took very special care of their creature comforts, and made them wish “for more like her.” She was not accustomed to summer in London, and the consequence of it all was the very serious attack, already mentioned, in the autumn. She recovered, however, with something of the rapidity of the experience in the spring, and was able to go to Bournemouth, and afterwards to spend Christmas at her cottage at Epping.

When my sister and I returned from Italy, in May, 1894, we were very much grieved to see the change in our friend. She looked many years older, and was quite unfit for any sort of exertion. It was surprising how easily she accepted the changed conditions, and, after her life of so much activity, was quite content to be amused, finding special pleasure in Miss Millner’s lovely little Persian kitten. It was very touching to 374see her intense amusement in her subjection to her new medical attendant, Dr. Cobbett, the successor to her old friend Dr. Evershed. She even seemed to find a lively satisfaction in the discovery of a will which could dominate her own.

There was one bright spot in this summer, in a visit to “The Haven,” near Hythe, the pleasant home of her friend Mrs. Pierson, from which she returned so well that she went to the Norfolk coast with Miss Millner and Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Hill. But the weather was cold, and Mr. and Mrs. Septimus Buss, who joined her at Overstrand, were thankful to get her safely home again.

The change in our dear friend, with the manifest certainty that she must soon retire from her work, had made me look out her old letters, and begin to arrange the material she had prepared for the long-talked-of story of the school, which I wished to have ready when the day of retirement should come. On my last visit to her, early in November, she was so much stronger that she talked in quite the old way, telling me that she intended to amuse herself by dictating her reminiscences to a shorthand writer. I then told her what I had been doing, and she became quite eager that we should do it together. On November 12th I had a note fixing the next day for the first of these meetings. I was unfortunately prevented from going, thus losing that last precious evening of her active life—a lasting regret.

Early the next day the fatal illness began with an attack of unconsciousness. In a letter from the Rev. Alfred J. Buss, he says—

“Though my sister had been in ill health for a long time, she had rallied so often that much hope still remained. She had been at the school several times during last term, and attended a meeting of ‘old pupils.’ This last may have been too much for her. She 375had an attack from which she was unable to rally. There had been a consultation a few days before, and the medical men saw no reason why she should not then be better—and allowed me to inform the governors so—though she would still be liable to relapses. So that the end came unexpectedly.”

She had recovered from several similar attacks, and had latterly seemed so much stronger that there had been every reason for hope during the periods of consciousness that came from time to time, although a new symptom had appeared in the extreme restlessness that alternated with the lethargy.

For six weeks hope came and went, everything being done that love could devise or devotion carry out. In addition to the two constant companions, there were two trained nurses: and the dear patient, in the quiet intervals, was her sweetest self; so careful about giving trouble, and so courteous in her acknowledgment of service rendered, so grieved that the nurses should be kept up at night, and so anxious that Miss Millner and Miss Edwards should know how much she felt their kind attention.

Miss Edwards gives some interesting details of these last months after the return home from this last holiday, when, after a few weeks of care and nursing, she had seemed better than at any time during the year:—

“Three weeks of peaceful, quiet enjoyment followed this illness, during which Miss Buss received many of her friends at her own house, and was further made happy by a visit from her old and intimate friend, Mrs. Hodgson, who has since written: ‘I am very thankful that I had such a sweet, happy time with my friend before the last illness came, and when she could in a measure enjoy life.’

“During this period of improved health Miss Buss paid her last three visits to the school she loved so dearly, visits that will not soon be forgotten by those who then saw her. On October 31st she was present in the evening at the ‘old pupils’’ meeting, and on November 2nd, during part of the school concert, and, with 376her usual sympathetic thought of others, sent on each occasion for several of the music teachers and others of the staff to sit by her in turn and exchange a few words.

“The last occasion on which our dear head-mistress was at Sandall Road was on November 7th, when she distributed the holiday prizes, making kindly inquiries, as each girl whom she knew came before her, for parents and brothers and sisters at home, and taking special notice of the little ones, for whom she had brought a large packet of sweets.

“Before this illness came on she had with her own hands arranged all her Christmas gifts and ordered her Christmas cards, received by many of her friends on that sad Christmas Day. There were also some packets addressed by herself of mementoes to friends, all the more precious for this evidence of thoughtful foresight.

“On Saturday, November 10th, friends came to lunch, and Miss Buss was well enough to enjoy their society, and show particular interest in the children, finding games and other amusement for them.

“On this day also she had a visit from an old pupil—and colleague—who brought her little baby-girl, asking permission to call her Frances Mary, a request which greatly touched Miss Buss. Constantly during her illness she spoke of her ‘little namesake baby,’ who once, at the dear invalid’s special wish, was brought to see her.

“On November 11th Miss Buss attended the short morning service at the church of St. Mary the Virgin, almost next door to Myra Lodge.

“On Monday evening she was able to be with the girls at No. 89, enjoying, as she always did, to see them happy in playing games.

“The next day two old pupils took tea with her, and for the Wednesday a luncheon-party of some of the clergy and workers of Holy Trinity had been arranged. But this, by the doctor’s orders, had to be postponed.”

On the Thursday before the end there was a return of consciousness for some hours, with full recognition of her nephew, the Rev. Charles Caron Buss, the “Charlie boy” of olden days, whom she now questioned tenderly about his little curly-headed Kenneth, 377her latest delight. She also recognized and talked with Mrs. Alfred Buss. Then came her “own boy,” the Rev. Francis F. Buss, and she was able to follow the Service for the Visitation of the Sick, and to join once more in the Veni Creator, and then, for the last time, in the words of the Collect, so often on her lips, to seek from the “Fountain of all Wisdom those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot, ask”—a prayer so meet for one who had walked from earliest days so humbly with her God—a prayer so soon to be answered by the revelation of “the things prepared for them that love.”

With this last self-surrender she let go her hold on earth, sinking again into a state of coma that grew deeper and deeper till it merged into the sleep of death. It lasted for three whole days longer, during which her family and a few intimate friends were unremitting in their visits, though there was nothing to be done but take a sad look at the dear face, and go away with the terrible sense of change, as they thought of that still form, those closed eyes, those unanswering lips from which came now only that slow laboured breathing, and remembered their friend as they had always known her before, so alert, so alive to every touch, so quick of response to the faintest appeal. The only break in this long stillness came in the hymns which from time to time were sung softly by the watchers at the bedside, in the hope that those familiar sounds might penetrate, beneath the silence.

All Sunday night the family remained in expectation—almost in hope—of the release which seemed so near, waiting as they that watch for the morning. Christmas Eve dawned, and, as the day advanced to high noon, the heavy breathing grew more and more quiet, till at length came perfect peace, and the 378watchers knew that their beloved had passed from death to life.

“For fifty years with dauntless heart
Step after step she won her way,
Through times of cloud, and barren praise,
Up to the well-earned golden days
Of proud success, and prouder fame;
Where no high thought of self had part,
No poor ambition of display,
To dim the lustre of her name.
“So, far and wide, o’er mead and lea,
Was sown the seed; and many a waste
Broke into blossom; fields grew white
To harvest that she lived to see,
Though not the fuller fruit to taste
(Which ages yet to come shall reap)
Ere fell the shadow of the night,
And, dauntless still, she sank to sleep.
“To busy hands and weary brain
Thus comes at last the dawn of peace,
Rest after noble toil, in light
Beyond the shadows, infinite;
Yea, life in Him who once again
By death for ever lives: release
From bonds to freedom. None may tell
Her bliss, but surely ‘SHE SLEEPS WELL.’”
(Rev. B. G. Johns.)



“Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her own works praise her in the gates.”—Prov. xxxi. 31.

“Of feeble knees the strengthener,
The stay of timid hearts,
Does all her might go out with her
Who now to rest departs?
Nay, for the children of her love,
To their full stature grown,
Must learn amid their tears to prove
How they can go alone.”
Emily Hickey.

Fifty years of work! Of work that, had she been other than she was, might have been mere thankless drudgery; of work that, being what she was, remains a living influence, spreading, in ever-widening circles, to distances beyond compute. Fifty years of love, poured out from a heart often disappointed, but never embittered; often left unfilled, but never found empty; often strained to utmost tension, but never relaxing its high energy. Being as she was, refreshed by the living water, sustained by the bread of life, the strength was hers that knows neither drought nor famine.

For more than forty years she had worshipped in the same church—Holy Trinity—built by her friend the Rev. David Laing, and afterwards held by her friends, 380the Rev. E. Spooner, the Rev. Charles Lee, and Dr. Cutts.

To this altar she came, through all her working time, to renew the strength in which her work was done as “Christ’s faithful soldier and servant to her life’s end.” And here, when that end came, the last gleams of the dying year fell on the white blossoms that hid all that was mortal of that brave spirit, while the vast crowd knelt to give thanks for a life which had made all life so much the more worth living to themselves and to all women who should come after them.

“The good die never!” There can be no end to this high influence that for the half-century past has gone out, carrying with it all that is true, all that is pure, all that is lovely. It must still go on in the centuries to come in added power, since

“Good, the more
Communicated, more abundant grows.”

And yet, do we not too sadly feel that the end has come for us, who will not again, while we tarry here, look on that kind face, or feel the clasp of that hand that seemed strength itself? We rejoice in the joy of her immortality—here and hereafter—but for us, here and now, there is the suffering of this present time, which is “not joyous, but grievous.”

How much she did! She worked till the last; till those magnificent energies, which seemed inexhaustible, were at length worn out.

She “died in harness,” and we must not grudge her what she would have chosen. But yet, how we wish it might have been otherwise! That she might have rested in time, to have saved herself to be with us a little longer, an inspiration and strength to all; “a great moral force in the educational world;” an example to 381all teachers, as well as to her own staff and her own pupils; a joy to the friends who loved her; and to her own nearest and dearest——? But here we pause and are silent before her brother’s words: “I cannot speak of what she was—and what her memory will be—to her nearer relatives, and especially to us, her brothers.”

The details of the service in Holy Trinity and the concluding ceremony in the quiet churchyard at Theydon Bois, near her cottage at Epping, on the edge of the Forest, are given by eye-witnesses, happy in being permitted to be there to see and hear for themselves.

Never, it seemed to me then, could physical disability have pressed more heavily than during that week—from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve—when, although no farther distant than St. Leonard’s, I had to submit to be absent, while so many friends were doing honour to her whom we all loved and mourned.

The events of the three days, so full of emotion, could not be better told than as they are given in the “Memorials” compiled in the beginning of the year, by her old pupils—afterwards colleagues—Miss Edith Aitken, Mrs. W. K. Hill (Eleanor M. Childs), and Miss Sara A. Burstall, who record the scenes at Holy Trinity, at Theydon Bois, and on the first day of the re-opening of the schools.


“It is the will of God that even to the most vigorous and faithful of His servants there shall come, sooner or later, weakness and decay of strength. There is nothing more simply sorrowful than this, and yet it is an integral part of the providence of the world. To the most fortunate and gifted life, full of great opportunities, to which the character and personality were equal, to a life blessed 382with health and power and love and success and a large measure of happiness, even to such a life comes old age, with its train of disappointment and feebleness. It is true that the waning of a noble life is often marked by a sweetening and mellowing of character, which is in itself a triumph and a glory; but still the growing earthly feebleness cannot be forgotten, and it is a sad thing to watch the face change, and to hear the voice ever weaker and the step ever feebler, and to know that strength is gone and will come back no more in this life. The grasshopper has become a burden; the night is at hand.

“During the last year we have shared in such growing sorrow, as we have watched the struggle of an eager and hopeful spirit against increasing physical pain and weakness. We have hoped against hope, for the spirit was still so willing, but the foreboding was always there, and in the last dark days of the old year the end came, irrevocably and, as it seemed, almost suddenly. No more alternations, no more struggles; all was over.

“What an oppression of loss and pain seemed to brood over us as we waited through that dark winter’s morning in the dim church full of mourning figures! Crowds of people witnessed to the wide-reaching influence of the life of which we were thinking. The solemn dignity of the occasion, as we caught a glimpse of one and then of another who had come, each from his or her important place and work, to take a part in this last ceremony of respect, recalled the importance of the life-work now over. Especially did the sight of such a veteran of the struggle as Miss Emily Davies bring to mind touching memories of the fight for an ideal waged in the beginning against great odds. Such had been this our leader—an important force in the world, a mind of originating insight, who had modified her age for good. But now all was over. We had had the privilege of being with her, but we should have it no more. Our lives for the future were to be poorer and smaller.

“The tolling bell seemed to beat out such thoughts as we waited. But these more general regrets are changed to the acuter stab of personal grief, as the coffin is carried in and passes us close. It is to this that the loved presence has come, and even this is for the last time. A hundred personal details come back—her dress, her favourite colours, her smile, the sound of her voice. Thus and thus we knew her—and shall know her no more.

“‘The best is yet to be.’ We believe it, but we loved her as she was.

“It is hard to control our voices, but we are still her army. It 383behoves us to show that we can respond to the word of command, and so we take our part in the service, and all goes on in its appointed order to the end. The coffin is carried out, and we disperse on our further journey, sad and dreary, down to Theydon Bois. Our minds are filled by thoughts of the past and of the future. To many of us the best part of our lives is associated with her. To how many has she not been a generous and inspiring friend, who brought out all our best by her very belief in it? How are we to go on without her? And how drearily ashamed we feel of our worst, which we can never now amend before her.

“It pleased God to let our final farewell be very beautiful. The churchyard at Theydon lies on the slope of a hill, and the grave is at the northern side of the low, red brick, country church. The short winter day was drawing to its close already, and the western sky was glowing with glorious red and gold. The procession was marshalled in the road below, and the white-robed clergy came down to meet us from out of the sunset light, as it seemed. Our hymns of rest and triumph felt right and fitting then, as we thought of her and not of ourselves. She had fought a good fight, and had finished her course. The country fields lay bare about us, and the branches of the trees, interlacing themselves between us and the evening sky, were leafless. But everything was touched with a most tender and beautiful light, as large, soft snow-flakes floated gently down on the violets and white spring flowers with which we covered her. And so we left her.”

“‘The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them;
In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, and their departure is taken for misery,
And their going from us to be utter destruction. But they are in peace,
For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality.’”
Edith Aitken.

“On the last day of the old year Holy Trinity Church, Kentish Town, was filled to overflowing with those who had met to pay their last tribute to her who had passed away from among us. The greater number of the mourners consisted, as was natural, of past and present pupils of the North London Collegiate and Camden Schools, but in addition there were representatives of all branches 384of education in the widest sense of the word. Among these we may mention Rev. T. W. Sharpe (H.M. Chief Inspector of Schools), Professor Hales (King’s College), Prebendary Whittington, Rev. Brooke Lambert, Rev. H. L. Paget, General Moberly (Vice-Chairman of the London School Board), Mr. Latham, Q.C. (representing the Clothworkers’ Company), Mr. Alfred Bevan (representing the Brewers’ Company), Mr. Elliott and Mr. Danson (Governors), Mr. Storr (Merchant Taylors’ School), Mr. Hinton (Haberdashers’ School, Hoxton), Dr. Evershed, Dr. J. Collins, Mr. Percy Bunting, Mr. Courthope Bowen, Mr. W. C. Bell (Treasurer of the Cambridge Training College), Miss Agnes Ward, Miss Hadland, Mrs. W. Burbury (Governor), Miss Prance (Governor), Miss Day (Greycoat School), Miss Andrews (Maida Vale High School), Miss Armstrong (Dame Alice Owen School), Miss Penrose (Bedford College), the Misses Metcalfe (Hendon), Miss Huckwell (Leamington), Miss Green (Blackburn) and Mrs. Mary Davies.

“Long before the time appointed for the service—10 a.m.—every seat in the church, which is said to hold about two thousand, was filled, while many people were standing in the aisles. As the coffin was brought in at the south door, the door by which Miss Buss had entered Sunday after Sunday from the time the church was built, the whole congregation rose to its feet, and remained standing until the mournful procession reached the chancel. It was impossible, even then, to realize that we should never again on earth see that familiar face, never again hear the kindly words that so often cheered and encouraged us in our darkest hours, making us feel that, after all, life was worth living, and that each one of us had her special work to do.

“All the arrangements had been most carefully planned before. The chancel, with the seats behind, was reserved for the family and immediate mourners, Governors of the Schools and representatives sat in the front seats, teachers and present pupils of the North London, all of whom carried white flowers, in the body of the church. The west gallery was appropriated to the Camden School, while the rest of the gallery and the side aisles were filled with old pupils and friends. The pall-bearers were:—

Professor Hill.
(Of University College, London.)
Dr. Garnett.
(Educational Adviser of the Technical Education Committee of the London County Council.)
385Mrs. Bryant.
(Vice-Mistress of the North London Collegiate School.)
Miss Lawford.
(Head-Mistress of the Camden School.)
Miss Hughes.
(Head of the Cambridge Training College.)
Miss Jones.
(Head-Mistress of Notting Hill High School and President of the Head Mistresses’ Association.)
Miss Emily Davies.
(One of the Founders of Girton College.)
Miss Beale.
(Head of the Ladies’ College, Cheltenham.)
Dr. Wormell.
(Head-Master of the Central Foundation Schools, Cowper Street, representing the College of Preceptors.)
Dr. Fitch.
(Member of the Senate of the University of London, representing the Teachers’ Guild.)

“Mrs. Green was at the organ, and the girls’ choir led the singing, which consisted of Psalm xxxix., the ‘Nunc Dimittis,’ and the hymns ‘The saints of God, their conflict passed,’ ‘Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin,’ and ‘Now the labourer’s task is o’er.’

“After the service, which was conducted by the Vicar (the Rev. Dr. Cutts), Canon Browne, whose work in connection with the Cambridge Local Examinations brought him for so many years into such close contact with Miss Buss, delivered an address from the chancel steps. He said the last rites were often performed over those who were too young to have shown promise; over those who had shown promise, and were cut off, as it seemed, prematurely; over those who had lived longer, and had had no aim, done no work in life; over those who had had noble aims, and had been disappointed, or who, having seen the fulfilment of their aims, had outlived their friends, and died silent and alone. How exactly the opposite of all this was the record of Frances Mary Buss! She had great aims, she had seen a noble work perfectly done, she was surrounded to the last by affectionate friends. It was not too much 386to say that she was one of the most prominent actors in that which had changed the face of a large area of human life. There were many present who had played a large part in it, but he could not name the living. Miss Anne Clough and Miss Buss were, of those who had passed away, those who had developed the best of woman’s nature, the latent power and charm of that intellect which was so subtle in its intuition and so swift in its spring. Miss Buss had reduced the wear and tear of effort by the improvement of method, and had changed that which had been dull and flat and painful into brightness and interest. Thousands of girls’ lives had been made happier, hundreds of women were now doing congenial woman’s work through her means. It was difficult to believe that it had all grown from nothing in thirty years. It was not with her as with many—that others had laboured, and she had entered into their labours; she was herself the pioneer, and herself had crowned the work. It had not been done from policy; it had all come from love and sympathy, combined with that practical intuition which always lays its finger on the important point. Now her task was o’er, that faithful labourer, under whom a wilderness had grown into a garden, the garden had blossomed into flowers so fair, had borne fruit so sweet. It was the last day of the year, the eve of a New Year. The Church’s lessons brought before them that beautiful chapter of the Revelation which described the new heavens and the new earth. Miss Buss’ quiet and decided religious character enabled them to enter without hesitation on that branch of thought. Her religious character shone naturally throughout her educational work. They read of the garnishing of heaven with precious stones of various hues and many names, not there because of this hue or that, of this characteristic or the other, but because they were precious stones. In all reverent faith they followed in imagination the placing of their friend, now lost here, among the precious stones in heaven, and they might pray that of themselves it might be true that she was but gone before.

“The second part of the service was performed in the little churchyard of Theydon Bois, near ‘Boscombe.’ The journey seemed to be made doubly sad by the remembrance of the many delightful holidays we had spent at ‘The Cottage,’ and by all its associations; and yet we felt that we would rather she were laid to rest there, in the open country, than in a crowded London cemetery. ‘After life’s fitful fever she sleeps well.’

“The day was piercingly cold, in spite of the bright sunshine, and the ground was covered with snow. About six hundred went 387down to Theydon Bois by a special train, and the long procession was formed at the foot of the hill on which the church stands. Mr. Garrod, Secretary of the Teachers’ Guild, Mr. Foster Watson, Master of Method at Aberystwith College, Mr. Pinches, Treasurer of the College of Preceptors, and Mr. W. K. Hill, Head-Master of the Kentish Town School, acted as marshals. At two o’clock, the hearse and carriages with the chief mourners reached the spot, and the long train of mourners, headed by the clergy, the Rev. C. E. Campbell, Vicar of Theydon Bois, Canon Barker, and Canon Browne, moved slowly up the hill. Immediately behind the clergy came the girls’ choir, singing ‘How bright the glorious spirits shine.’ The voices, subdued as they were, owing to the great length of the procession, had—if one may so express it—a wonderfully spiritual effect. The churchyard was quite filled with the mourners, and after the actual service was finished, Canon Barker delivered a short address to those assembled round the open grave on the life-work and lessons taught by Miss Buss, whose name, he said, would be connected with the commencement of the higher education of women for many years to come. He dwelt on the zeal and ability displayed by the deceased in founding the great school in Camden Town, and the most important educational testimony she had given before the Schools Commission. Miss Buss also established the Head-mistresses’ Association and the Teachers’ Guild, and her schools were the models of those of the Girls’ Public Day School Company. The effect and success of her work was seen at Girton and Newnham Colleges, and at the London University, and he mentioned the fact that at one time at least two-thirds of the girls at Girton were from Miss Buss’ own school. The chief point in regard to her character was her remarkable personality and indomitable strength. Her simplicity and singleness of heart were without a taint of personal ambition. He dilated on her great power of assimilating new ideas, and said the influence of her will was extraordinary. Her name would live for years, and the women not only of this country, but of every other, owed her a debt of gratitude for the noble work she had accomplished. He touched upon her deep religious character, manifested so clearly in her quiet advice and consolation to the girls who came to her in any worry or trouble, and finally he said it was a blessing to any one to be able to see, as Miss Buss had done, her life’s work crowned with success before she departed.

“In compliance with the expressed wish of the family, comparatively few wreaths were sent, but these were quite as many as could 388well be dealt with. In addition to those from members of the family, the teachers of the North London Collegiate School sent a wreath of laurel, the Camden School teachers a wreath, Miss Ridley (a Governor of the school from its early days) and Miss J. T. Ridley a wreath, Myra Lodge an anchor of violets, while the pupils festooned and decorated the hearse. Most of those present carried flowers, which they threw into the ivy-lined grave.

“For the greater part of the service large flakes of snow had been slowly falling. The day will ever remain in our hearts. Though one of deep sadness, yet there was withal a feeling of gratitude that we, too, had known her, and of pride that we were Miss Buss’ girls.

Eleanor M. Hill.

It is impossible to do more than merely indicate the feeling caused by the death of Frances Mary Buss, as evidenced in the piles of letters addressed to her family, and to Mrs. Bryant and members of the staff, by leaders in the educational world, as well as by pupils, past and present, and by friends from every part of the globe. The extracts already given will serve to represent this deep and widespread sense of loss, and to show in how many hearts her memory will live on.

Of outward and visible memorials there are several still in progress. One only is as yet completed, a window given by relatives and friends to Holy Trinity Church, where, on October 3, a special dedicatory service was held. The subject is St. Scholastica, the devoted sister of St. Benedict who founded Monte Cassino, the first monastery of the Western Church. St. Scholastica is said to have helped largely in the revival of religion and learning that marked the sixth century. She became the Head of the first community of nuns, and it is in this character that she is represented in the upper part of the window. In the lower part she is seated, with one of her young novices at her knee, in keeping with her name, and with the work of the great teacher thus commemorated, whose likeness is plainly 389recognizable in the features of the saint. Above the head of the upper figure runs a scroll with the words, “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith” (Rev. ii. 19). The inscription below is, “In loving memory of Frances Mary Buss, for forty-five years a communicant of this Church.”

The memorial window in the Clothworkers’ Hall, Sandall Road, which is to be the gift of the Company, is still in progress. The design represents four typical women from sacred history, all peculiarly appropriate—

I. Deborah, “a mother in Israel” (Judg. v. 7).

II. Huldah, “the prophetess,” with whom “many communed” (2 Kings xxii. 14).

III. Mary, who “chose the better part” (Luke x. 42).

IV. Phœbe, “a servant of the Church, and a succourer of many” (Rom. xvi. 1).

A portrait is introduced into the design.

In the Camden School there is to be a marble bust, the gift of the same generous donors, who have already done so much to beautify the schools.

But the memorial which would most have pleased her whose name it will bear is in the Travelling Scholarships, to which the public subscriptions are to be devoted. In keeping with the large-heartedness which knew no bounds, the benefit of these Scholarships will not be confined to the two schools of which she was the founder. It is hoped that many a worn and jaded teacher may thus derive from foreign travel the rest and refreshment which so often sent Miss Buss herself back to work with renewed vigour; and it can scarcely be doubted that in extent these Scholarships will prove worthy of one who so largely gave to others.

The account given by Miss Burstall of the re-opening of the school after the great change that had come upon it is full of interest—

390“The opening of school on the first day of term was a strange, but inspiring and impressive, ceremony, which none of those present are likely to forget. The dark ranks of the girls, as they stood for prayers, the black dresses of the teachers, the laurel wreath hung above our dear Founder’s portrait, the empty great chair, which would never be filled again by her we had seen there so often—all told the story which the funeral hymns[21] sung before and after prayers reiterated. When the short, very short, service was concluded, the Rev. A. J. Buss came forward, and first, on behalf of the family, thanked the staff for their work (a very labour of love indeed) in organizing the funeral arrangements, and the girls for their singing on the sad occasion. He then, as Clerk to the Governors, went on to say that the Governors had been unable, owing to the shortness of the time that had elapsed, to make any final arrangement, but that they had asked Mrs. Bryant to take the post of acting Head-mistress during the term.

“Mrs. Bryant, after saying a few words in response to Mr. Buss, gave a short address, expressing (as she said) the thoughts and memories that rose to the surface in trying to realize the greatness of the leader who had passed from among us. Sympathy, absolute devotion of self, extraordinary energy of will, marvellous charity—these one thought of as they had been shown year after year in counsel, in delight in other’s pleasures, in carrying ideas into action, in patience and help to inferior workers, in honour and appreciation to talent, in raising the weak, in strengthening the strong.

“The thrill of emotion, of loyalty, of sorrow, and of hope, which passed through the hearts of so many of us as she spoke, is too personal, too sacred for expression. It was a relief when music, that divine art which begins where words end, came to speak regret and aspiration, as the solemn chords of the Dead March in ‘Saul’ flowed from the organ. Just at this moment, a little after 9.30 a.m., a winter thunderstorm rolled up. The light grew fainter, the wind sounded round the building; still the music pealed on as the darkness gathered, rising stronger and fuller in its confidence of triumph over death, when, just at the climax of the melody, a flash of lightning blazed for an instant like an answering fire from the heavenly world. It was a strange coincidence, but it was not the first time that Nature had seemed to sympathize with our grief and with 391our consolation. The flowers and the winter sunshine of New Year’s Eve, the softly-falling benediction of the snow in the churchyard at Theydon—these had their meaning. So, too, had the symbol of power, of energy, of light in darkness, when the New Year began with its new work and its new, yet old, inspiration.”

21.  “The saints of God, their conflict passed,” and “Peace, perfect peace.”

The music ceased, and all stood for a moment in silence, till, as Miss Fawcett tells us—

“Mrs. Bryant said very quietly, ‘The classes will now pass to their own rooms as usual!’ and, as we obeyed, the clouds cleared away, and the place was soon flooded with brilliant sunshine. ‘Le roi est mort: vive le roi!’ was the thought in all minds. But our new Head had taken her stand on the old order of things, and there is sweetness in our sadness.”

Owing to some technicalities which could not be set aside, the post of Head-mistress was still not filled officially either on the Foundation Day or Prize Day, June 27, 1895, and these may therefore be counted as the last days of the old régime, the beloved Founder still holding supreme rule, through the self-effacing loyalty with which her successor did honour to the cherished memory.[22]

22.  In a paper found in Miss Buss’ desk there is gratifying proof of the satisfaction it would have given her to know of the choice of her successor—

“I know Mrs. Bryant well, and think her the most competent woman in the whole range of my acquaintance to take up my work after me. She is bright, accomplished, energetic, and earnest. She is amiable and loving, and, above all, has vital force. She has, indeed, ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body.’ Pages of writing could not express more strongly my conviction that she is the one woman who would and could carry on the school in the same spirit as it is carried on now. Her fellow-workers would also be loyal to her, and she would be considerate about them.

(Signed) “Frances Mary Buss.

“Myra Lodge, Feb. 3, 1878.”

On Foundation Day (April 4)—henceforth to be known as Founder’s Day—the sense of loss was manifest in the black dresses of the staff, and in the absence of the usual daffodils with which the Hall had been gay in past 392times. The needlework was shown as usual, but in place of the entertainment of other years, there was an organ recital, followed by a selection of sacred music, ending with the hymn, so deeply impressive to all there, “The saints of God, their conflict passed.”

On the Prize Day (June 27) there was a special appropriateness in the fact that in Professor Jebb of Cambridge, who occupied the chair, there should have been so distinguished a representative of the University which had been so much to one who had laboured to open for others the way thither which she could not herself follow.

In the presence of Lady Frederick Cavendish, who gave the prizes on this last day, there was also a very special fitness, not only as a very active member of the Council of the Girls’ Public Day Schools Company—a work made possible in the beginning by Miss Buss’ success in her schools—but still more as the daughter of Lord Lyttelton, one of the earliest friends to the higher education of girls in general, and, in particular, to the North London Collegiate and Camden Schools for girls.

The day was further marked as the close of the first great period of the School’s history by the absence, not only of the Head herself, but of two of her foremost helpers—the Bishop of Winchester and Mr. Elliott—the one suffering from the illness so soon to prove fatal, and the other from sudden bereavement. So far back as 1879 Miss Buss, in regretting the absence on the opening of the new Hall of the Rev. Charles Lee, had thus written of these three friends—

“For years past Mr. Lee was the one person who was guide, philosopher, and friend; who gave up his time, and who, with Mr. Elliott and Mr. Thorold, met constantly in Camden Street, looked after Myra Lodge as well as 202, worked up the law questions 393(Mr. Elliott has always given his law knowledge to me and to the movement from the beginning), and in fact worked hard when friends were few and success was apparently hopeless.”

Mr. Lee’s removal from London deprived Miss Buss of his valuable help, but for fifteen years longer Dr. Thorold and Mr. Elliott were by her side in any time of need, and their kind and genial speeches had come to be an essential part of Prize Day rejoicing.

And so the old order changes once again. But, no longer looking sadly backward, we may turn hopefully to the future, as past and present are united in the heartfelt tribute to the Founder with which her successor takes up the work of the school.

“Last year I stood behind her in this place and read the Prize Day report, which was her report, for her. To-day I am proud to be her deputy once again and glad, for this day at least, of the circumstances which have determined that as yet no one speaks in her place as more than a deputy.

“The thought of our School’s past—the pride in it, the regret for it as past—must be specially with us all to-day. For the first time in forty-five years we meet together for our yearly distribution of prizes without the gracious presence of the Founder, a presence so familiar, that cannot be replaced. A great teacher, a wise administrator, a strong and sympathetic leader, she held a place almost as unique in the educational world as the history of the schools she founded. Nevertheless, the loss to us in this school is deepest, widest, most intimate. To those who have been her colleagues, the sense of it is ever present, in all the details of work, and affecting all the relations of friendship.

“Noble work like hers remains in effect for all time, and great inspirations are immortal, passing on from mind to mind. The neighbourhood knows, and will long know, our building as ‘Miss Buss’ School,’ and our traditions have already lived too long to lose the stamp of the character that moulded them. To guard them with care, to act on them with zeal, will be the pleasure and duty of every North London girl.

“It is, I believe, hardly necessary, but I would like, before concluding, to remind the pupils of the thanks that are due to the 394teachers for their never-failing interest and devotion to work which, though always cheering, is sometimes hard. For myself, I could not adequately express, but I hope they know without words how much I have appreciated their loyal support and their unity of spirit as they have worked together with me during these last six months. The dark cloud through which we have passed has caused us all as colleagues to draw closer together, like children in a family when the head has gone forth.”

We find the same spirit in the account given in the School Magazine of Mrs. Bryant’s election, on July 9, as Miss Burstall concludes—

“It was a quiet day, and a very simple ceremony. There was something of the sweetness and ease of home in it all, and indeed we felt as if we were a family rather than a school; and, as in the beautiful and sacred life of home we do not speak of our loyalty and devotion, but act on them as principles so certain as to need no expression, so it was here. The day was a very happy one. Every one went about her work with a new impulse of earnestness, a new assurance of peaceful continuity. For the rest, the future will speak, and the past is witness that the future will be good.”

On Prize Day, that last day of the old which was the first day of the new era, Lady Frederick Cavendish in her address dwelt especially on the faith and sympathy of the Founder as the secret of the success of her schools, finding here, as everywhere, the true source of all great and lasting work in the faith that uplifts and the love that unites.

Then from the bright past the speaker looked beyond the darkly shadowed present to a future full of hope in the work to come. None present on that day will forget the inspiration of the closing words of this address—words doubly strong as quoted by one who had come through a great darkness into the light: one who will always stand out as witness that a heart emptied of joy may yet become a full channel of blessing—

395“What though the brightness dim, the glory fade,
The splendour vanish?—Not of these is made
The holy trust that to your charge is given,
Children of God, inheritors of heaven!
     •     •     •      •     •     •     
A sacred burden is the life ye bear,
Look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly,
Stand up, and walk beneath it steadfastly,
Fall not for sorrow, falter not for sin,
But upward, onward, till the goal ye win.
God guide you, and God guard you all the way;
Children of light, set forth, set forth to-day!”