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TO MRS. KATE ADAMS KELLER
South Boston, April 13, 1893.
…Teacher, Mrs. Pratt and I very unexpectedly decided to take a journey with dear Dr. Bell Mr. Westervelt, a gentleman whom father met in Washington, has a school for the deaf in Rochester. We went there first….

Mr. Westervelt gave us a reception one afternoon. A great many people came. Some of them asked odd questions. A lady seemed surprised that I loved flowers when I could not see their beautiful colors, and when I assured her I did love them, she said, “no doubt you feel the colors with your fingers.” But of course, it is not alone for their bright colors that we love the flowers…. A gentleman asked me what BEAUTY meant to my mind. I must confess I was puzzled at first. But after a minute I answered that beauty was a form of goodness–and he went away.

When the reception was over we went back to the hotel and teacher slept quite unconscious of the surprise which was in store for her. Mr. Bell and I planned it together, and Mr. Bell made all the arrangements before we told teacher anything about it. This was the surprise–I was to have the pleasure of taking my dear teacher to see Niagara Falls!…

The hotel was so near the river that I could feel it rushing past by putting my hand on the window. The next morning the sun rose bright and warm, and we got up quickly for our hearts were full of pleasant expectation…. You can never imagine how I felt when I stood in the presence of Niagara until you have the same mysterious sensations yourself. I could hardly realize that it was water that I felt rushing and plunging with impetuous fury at my feet. It seemed as if it were some living thing rushing on to some terrible fate. I wish I could describe the cataract as it is, its beauty and awful grandeur, and the fearful and irresistible plunge of its waters over the brow of the precipice. One feels helpless and overwhelmed in the presence of such a vast force. I had the same feeling once before when I first stood by the great ocean and felt its waves beating against the shore. I suppose you feel so, too, when you gaze up to the stars in the stillness of the night, do you not?… We went down a hundred and twenty feet in an elevator that we might see the violent eddies and whirlpools in the deep gorge below the Falls. Within two miles of the Falls is a wonderful suspension bridge. It is thrown across the gorge at a height of two hundred and fifty-eight feet above the water and is supported on each bank by towers of solid rock, which are eight hundred feet apart. When we crossed over to the Canadian side, I cried, “God save the Queen!” Teacher said I was a little traitor. But I do not think so. I was only doing as the Canadians do, while I was in their country, and besides I honor England’s good queen.

You will be pleased, dear Mother, to hear that a kind lady whose name is Miss Hooker is endeavoring to improve my speech. Oh, I do so hope and pray that I shall speak well some day!…

Mr. Munsell spent last Sunday evening with us. How you would have enjoyed hearing him tell about Venice! His beautiful word-pictures made us feel as if we were sitting in the shadow of San Marco, dreaming, or sailing upon the moonlit canal…. I hope when I visit Venice, as I surely shall some day, that Mr. Munsell will go with me. That is my castle in the air. You see, none of my friends describe things to me so vividly and so beautifully as he does….

Her visit to the World’s Fair she described in a letter to Mr. John P. Spaulding, which was published in St. Nicholas, and is much like the following letter. In a prefatory note which Miss Sullivan wrote for St. Nicholas, she says that people frequently said to her, “Helen sees more with her fingers than we do with our eyes.” The President of the Exposition gave her this letter:

TO THE CHIEFS OF THE DEPARTMENTS AND OFFICERS IN CHARGE OF BUILDINGS AND EXHIBITS

GENTLEMEN–The bearer, Miss Helen Keller, accompanied by Miss Sullivan, is desirous of making a complete inspection of the Exposition in all Departments. She is blind and deaf, but is able to converse, and is introduced to me as one having a wonderful ability to understand the objects she visits, and as being possessed of a high order of intelligence and of culture beyond her years. Please favour her with every facility to examine the exhibits in the several Departments, and extend to her such other courtesies as may be possible.

Thanking you in advance for the same, I am, with respect, Very truly yours,
(signed) H. N. HIGINBOTHAM,
President.

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY
Hulton, Penn., August 17, 1893.

…Every one at the Fair was very kind to me… Nearly all of the exhibitors seemed perfectly willing to let me touch the most delicate things, and they were very nice about explaining everything to me. A French gentleman, whose name I cannot remember, showed me the great French bronzes. I believe they gave me more pleasure than anything else at the Fair: they were so lifelike and wonderful to my touch. Dr. Bell went with us himself to the electrical building, and showed us some of the historical telephones. I saw the one through which Emperor Dom Pedro listened to the words, “To be, or not to be,” at the Centennial. Dr. Gillett of Illinois took us to the Liberal Arts and Woman’s buildings. In the former I visited Tiffany’s exhibit, and held the beautiful Tiffany diamond, which is valued at one hundred thousand dollars, and touched many other rare and costly things. I sat in King Ludwig’s armchair and felt like a queen when Dr. Gillett remarked that I had many loyal subjects. At the Woman’s building we met the Princess Maria Schaovskoy of Russia, and a beautiful Syrian lady. I liked them both very much. I went to the Japanese department with Prof. Morse who is a well-known lecturer. I never realized what a wonderful people the Japanese are until I saw their most interesting exhibit. Japan must indeed be a paradise for children to judge from the great number of playthings which are manufactured there. The queer-looking Japanese musical instruments, and their beautiful works of art were interesting. The Japanese books are very odd. There are forty-seven letters in their alphabets. Prof. Morse knows a great deal about Japan, and is very kind and wise. He invited me to visit his museum in Salem the next time I go to Boston. But I think I enjoyed the sails on the tranquil lagoon, and the lovely scenes, as my friends described them to me, more than anything else at the Fair. Once, while we were out on the water, the sun went down over the rim of the earth, and threw a soft, rosy light over the White City, making it look more than ever like Dreamland….

Of course, we visited the Midway Plaisance. It was a bewildering and fascinating place. I went into the streets of Cairo, and rode on the camel. That was fine fun. We also rode in the Ferris wheel, and on the ice-railway, and had a sail in the Whale-back….

In the spring of 1893 a club was started in Tuscumbia, of which Mrs. Keller was president, to establish a public library. Miss Keller says:

“I wrote to my friends about the work and enlisted their sympathy. Several hundred books, including many fine ones, were sent to me in a short time, as well as money and encouragement. This generous assistance encouraged the ladies, and they have gone on collecting and buying books ever since, until now they have a very respectable public library in the town.”

TO MRS. CHARLES E. INCHES
Hulton, Penn., Oct. 21, 1893.
…We spent September at home in Tuscumbia… and were all very happy together…. Our quiet mountain home was especially attractive and restful after the excitement and fatigue of our visit to the World’s Fair. We enjoyed the beauty and solitude of the hills more than ever.

And now we are in Hulton, Penn. again where I am going to study this winter with a tutor assisted by my dear teacher. I study Arithmetic, Latin and literature. I enjoy my lessons very much. It is so pleasant to learn about new things. Every day I find how little I know, but I do not feel discouraged since God has given me an eternity in which to learn more. In literature I am studying Longfellow’s poetry. I know a great deal of it by heart, for I loved it long before I knew a metaphor from a synecdoche. I used to say I did not like arithmetic very well, but now I have changed my mind. I see what a good and useful study it is, though I must confess my mind wanders from it sometimes! for, nice and useful as arithmetic is, it is not as interesting as a beautiful poem or a lovely story. But bless me, how time does fly. I have only a few moments left in which to answer your questions about the “Helen Keller” Public Library.

1. I think there are about 3,000 people in Tuscumbia, Ala., and perhaps half of them are colored people. 2. At present there is no library of any sort in the town. That is why I thought about starting one. My mother and several of my lady friends said they would help me, and they formed a club, the object of which is to work for the establishment of a free public library in Tuscumbia. They have now about 100 books and about $55 in money, and a kind gentleman has given us land on which to erect a library building. But in the meantime the club has rented a little room in a central part of the town, and the books which we already have are free to all. 3. Only a few of my kind friends in Boston know anything about the library. I did not like to trouble them while I was trying to get money for poor little Tommy, for of course it was more important that he should be educated than that my people should have books to read. 4. I do not know what books we have, but I think it is a miscellaneous (I think that is the word) collection….

P.S. My teacher thinks it would be more businesslike to say that a list of the contributors toward the building fund will be kept and published in my father’s paper, the “North Alabamian.” H. K.

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY
Hulton, Penn., December 28, 1893.
…Please thank dear Miss Derby for me for the pretty shield which she sent me. It is a very interesting souvenir of Columbus, and of the Fair White City; but I cannot imagine what discoveries I have made,–I mean new discoveries. We are all discoverers in one sense, being born quite ignorant of all things; but I hardly think that is what she meant. Tell her she must explain why I am a discoverer….

TO DR. EDWARD EVERETT HALE
Hulton, Pennsylvania, January 14, [1894]. My dear Cousin: I had thought to write to you long before this in answer to your kind letter which I was so glad to receive, and to thank you for the beautiful little book which you sent me; but I have been very busy since the beginning of the New Year. The publication of my little story in the Youth’s Companion has brought me a large number of letters,–last week I received sixty-one!–and besides replying to some of these letters, I have many lessons to learn, among them Arithmetic and Latin; and, you know, Caesar is Caesar still, imperious and tyrannical, and if a little girl would understand so great a man, and the wars and conquests of which he tells in his beautiful Latin language, she must study much and think much, and study and thought require time.

I shall prize the little book always, not only for its own value; but because of its associations with you. It is a delight to think of you as the giver of one of your books into which, I am sure, you have wrought your own thoughts and feelings, and I thank you very much for remembering me in such a very beautiful way….

In February Helen and Miss Sullivan returned to Tuscumbia. They spent the rest of the spring reading and studying. In the summer they attended the meeting at Chautauqua of the American Association for the Promotion of the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf, where Miss Sullivan read a paper on Helen Keller’s education.

In the fall Helen and Miss Sullivan entered the Wright-Humason School in New York, which makes a special of lip-reading and voice-culture. The “singing lessons” were to strengthen her voice. She had taken a few piano lessons at the Perkins Institution. The experiment was interesting, but of course came to little.

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY
The Wright-Humason School.
42 West 76th St.
New York. Oct. 23, 1894.
…The school is very pleasant, and bless you! it is quite fashionable…. I study Arithmetic, English Literature and United States History as I did last winter. I also keep a diary. I enjoy my singing lessons with Dr. Humason more than I can say. I expect to take piano lessons sometime….

Last Saturday our kind teachers planned a delightful trip to Bedloe’s Island to see Bartholdi’s great statue of Liberty enlightening the world…. The ancient cannon, which look seaward, wear a very menacing expression; but I doubt if there is any unkindness in their rusty old hearts.

Liberty is a gigantic figure of a woman in Greek draperies, holding in her right hand a torch…. A spiral stairway leads from the base of this pedestal to the torch. We climbed up to the head which will hold forty persons, and viewed the scene on which Liberty gazes day and night, and O, how wonderful it was! We did not wonder that the great French artist thought the place worthy to be the home of his grand ideal. The glorious bay lay calm and beautiful in the October sunshine, and the ships came and went like idle dreams; those seaward going slowly disappeared like clouds that change from gold to gray; those homeward coming sped more quickly like birds that seek their mother’s nest….

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY
The Wright-Humason School.
New York, March 15, 1895.
…I think I have improved a little in lip-reading, though I still find it very difficult to read rapid speech; but I am sure I shall succeed some day if I only persevere. Dr. Humason is still trying to improve my speech. Oh, Carrie, how I should like to speak like other people! I should be willing to work night and day if it could only be accomplished. Think what a joy it would be to all of my friends to hear me speak naturally!! I wonder why it is so difficult and perplexing for a deaf child to learn to speak when it is so easy for other people; but I am sure I shall speak perfectly some time if I am only patient….

Although I have been so busy, I have found time to read a good deal…. I have lately read “Wilhelm Tell” by Schiller, and “The Lost Vestal.”… Now I am reading “Nathan the Wise” by Lessing and “King Arthur” by Miss Mulock.

…You know our kind teachers take us to see everything which they think will interest us, and we learn a great deal in that delightful way. On George Washington’s birthday we all went to the Dog Show, and although there was a great crowd in the Madison Square Garden, and despite the bewilderment caused by the variety of sounds made by the dog-orchestra, which was very confusing to those who could hear them, we enjoyed the afternoon very much. Among the dogs which received the most attention were the bulldogs. They permitted themselves startling liberties when any one caressed them, crowding themselves almost into one’s arms and helping themselves without ceremony to kisses, apparently unconscious of the impropriety of their conduct. Dear me, what unbeautiful little beasts they are! But they are so good natured and friendly, one cannot help liking them.

Dr. Humason, Teacher, and I left the others at the Dog Show and went to a reception given by the “Metropolitan Club.”… It is sometimes called the “Millionaires’ Club.” The building is magnificent, being built of white marble; the rooms are large and splendidly furnished; but I must confess, so much splendor is rather oppressive to me; and I didn’t envy the millionaires in the least all the happiness their gorgeous surroundings are supposed to bring them….

TO MRS. KATE ADAMS KELLER
New York, March 31, 1895.
…Teacher and I spent the afternoon at Mr. Hutton’s, and had a most delightful time!… We met Mr. Clemens and Mr. Howells there! I had known about them for a long time; but I had never thought that I should see them, and talk to them; and I can scarcely realize now that this great pleasure has been mine! But, much as I wonder that I, only a little girl of fourteen, should come in contact with so many distinguished people, I do realize that I am a very happy child, and very grateful for the many beautiful privileges I have enjoyed. The two distinguished authors were very gentle and kind, and I could not tell which of them I loved best. Mr. Clemens told us many entertaining stories, and made us laugh till we cried. I only wish you could have seen and heard him! He told us that he would go to Europe in a few days to bring his wife and his daughter, Jeanne, back to America, because Jeanne, who is studying in Paris, has learned so much in three years and a half that if he did not bring her home, she would soon know more than he did. I think Mark Twain is a very appropriate nom de plume for Mr. Clemens because it has a funny and quaint sound, and goes well with his amusing writings, and its nautical significance suggests the deep and beautiful things that he has written. I think he is very handsome indeed…. Teacher said she thought he looked something like Paradeuski. (If that is the way to spell the name.) Mr. Howells told me a little about Venice, which is one of his favorite cities, and spoke very tenderly of his dear little girl, Winnifred, who is now with God. He has another daughter, named Mildred, who knows Carrie. I might have seen Mrs. Wiggin, the sweet author of “Birds’ Christmas Carol,” but she had a dangerous cough and could not come. I was much disappointed not to see her, but I hope I shall have that pleasure some other time. Mr. Hutton gave me a lovely little glass, shaped like a thistle, which belonged to his dear mother, as a souvenir of my delightful visit. We also met Mr. Rogers… who kindly left his carriage to bring us home.

When the Wright-Humason School closed for the summer, Miss Sullivan and Helen went South.

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
Tuscumbia, Alabama, July 29, 1895.
…I am spending my vacation very quietly and pleasantly at my beautiful, sunny home, with my loving parents, my darling little sister and my small brother, Phillips My precious teacher is with me too, and so of course I am happy I read a little, walk a little, write a little and play with the children a great deal, and the days slip by delightfully!…

My friends are so pleased with the improvement which I made in speech and lip-reading last year, that it has been decided best for me to continue my studies in New York another year I am delighted at the prospect, of spending another year in your great city I used to think that I should never feel “at home” in New York, but since I have made the acquaintance of so many people, and can look back to such a bright and successful winter there, I find myself looking forward to next year, and anticipating still brighter and better times in the Metropolis

Please give my kindest love to Mr Hutton, and Mrs Riggs and Mr Warner too, although I have never had the pleasure of knowing him personally As I listen Venicewards, I hear Mr Hutton’s pen dancing over the pages of his new book It is a pleasant sound because it is full of promise How much I shall enjoy reading it!

Please pardon me, my dear Mrs Hutton, for sending you a typewritten letter across the ocean I have tried several times to write with a pencil on my little writing machine since I came home; but I have found it very difficult to do so on account of the heat The moisture of my hand soils and blurs the paper so dreadfully, that I am compelled to use my typewriter altogether And it is not my “Remington” either, but a naughty little thing that gets out of order on the slightest provocation, and cannot be induced to make a period…

TO MRS. WILLIAM THAW
New York, October 16, 1895.
Here we are once more in the great metropolis! We left Hulton Friday night and arrived here Saturday morning. Our friends were greatly surprised to see us, as they had not expected us before the last of this month. I rested Saturday afternoon, for I was very tired, and Sunday I visited with my schoolmates, and now that I feel quite rested, I am going to write to you; for I know you will want to hear that we reached New York safely. We had to change cars at Philadelphia; but we did not mind it much. After we had had our breakfast, Teacher asked one of the train-men in the station if the New York train was made up. He said no, it would not be called for about fifteen minutes; so we sat down to wait; but in a moment the man came back and asked Teacher if we would like to go to the train at once. She said we would, and he took us way out on the track and put us on board our train. Thus we avoided the rush and had a nice quiet visit before the train started. Was that not very kind? So it always is. Some one is ever ready to scatter little acts of kindness along our pathway, making it smooth and pleasant…

We had a quiet but very pleasant time in Hulton. Mr. Wade is just as dear and good as ever! He has lately had several books printed in England for me, “Old Mortality,” “The Castle of Otranto” and “King of No-land.”…

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY
New York, December 29, 1895.
…Teacher and I have been very gay of late. We have seen our kind friends, Mrs. Dodge, Mr. and Mrs. Hutton, Mrs. Riggs and her husband, and met many distinguished people, among whom were Miss Ellen Terry, Sir Henry Irving and Mr. Stockton! Weren’t we very fortunate? Miss Terry was lovely. She kissed Teacher and said, “I do not know whether I am glad to see you or not; for I feel so ashamed of myself when I think of how much you have done for the little girl.” We also met Mr. and Mrs. Terry, Miss Terry’s brother and his wife. I thought her beauty angellic, and oh, what a clear, beautiful voice she had! We saw Miss Terry again with Sir Henry in “King Charles the First,” a week ago last Friday, and after the play they kindly let me feel of them and get an idea of how they looked. How noble and kingly the King was, especially in his misfortunes! And how pretty and faithful the poor Queen was! The play seemed so real, we almost forgot where we were, and believed we were watching the genuine scenes as they were acted so long ago. The last act affected us most deeply, and we all wept, wondering how the executioner could have the heart to tear the King from his loving wife’s arms.

I have just finished reading “Ivanhoe.” It was very exciting; but I must say I did not enjoy it very much. Sweet Rebecca, with her strong, brave spirit, and her pure, generous nature, was the only character which thoroughly won my admiration. Now I am reading “Stories from Scottish History,” and they are very thrilling and absorbing!…

The next two letters were written just after the death of Mr. John P. Spaulding.

TO MRS. GEORGE H. BRADFORD
New York, February 4, 1896.
What can I say which will make you understand how much Teacher and I appreciate your thoughtful kindness in sending us those little souvenirs of the dear room where we first met the best and kindest of friends? Indeed, you can never know all the comfort you have given us. We have put the dear picture on the mantel-piece in our room where we can see it every day, and I often go and touch it, and somehow I cannot help feeling that our beloved friend is very near to me…. It was very hard to take up our school work again, as if nothing had happened; but I am sure it is well that we have duties which must be done, and which take our minds away for a time at least from our sorrow….

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY
New York, March 2nd, 1896.
…We miss dear King John sadly. It was so hard to lose him, he was the best and kindest of friends, and I do not know what we shall do without him….

We went to a poultry-show… and the man there kindly permitted us to feel of the birds. They were so tame, they stood perfectly still when I handled them. I saw great big turkeys, geese, guineas, ducks and many others.

Almost two weeks ago we called at Mr. Hutton’s and had a delightful time. We always do! We met Mr. Warner, the writer, Mr. Mabie, the editor of the Outlook and other pleasant people. I am sure you would like to know Mr. and Mrs. Hutton, they are so kind and interesting. I can never tell you how much pleasure they have given us.

Mr. Warner and Mr. Burroughs, the great lover of nature, came to see us a few days after, and we had a delightful talk with them. They were both very, very dear! Mr. Burroughs told me about his home near the Hudson, and what a happy place it must be! I hope we shall visit it some day. Teacher has read me his lively stories about his boyhood, and I enjoyed them greatly. Have you read the beautiful poem, “Waiting”? I know it, and it makes me feel so happy, it has such sweet thoughts. Mr. Warner showed me a scarf-pin with a beetle on it which was made in Egypt fifteen hundred years before Christ, and told me that the beetle meant immortality to the Egyptians because it wrapped itself up and went to sleep and came out again in a new form, thus renewing itself.

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY
New York, April 25, 1896.
…My studies are the same as they were when I saw you, except that I have taken up French with a French teacher who comes three times a week. I read her lips almost exclusively, (she does not know the manual alphabet) and we get on quite well. I have read “Le Medecin Malgre Lui,” a very good French comedy by Moliere, with pleasure; and they say I speak French pretty well now, and German also. Anyway, French and German people understand what I am trying to say, and that is very encouraging. In voice-training I have still the same old difficulties to contend against; and the fulfilment of my wish to speak well seems O, so far away! Sometimes I feel sure that I catch a faint glimpse of the goal I am striving for, but in another minute a bend in the road hides it from my view, and I am again left wandering in the dark! But I try hard not to be discouraged. Surely we shall all find at last the ideals we are seeking….

TO MR. JOHN HITZ
Brewster, Mass. July 15, 1896.
…As to the book, I am sure I shall enjoy it very much when I am admitted, by the magic of Teacher’s dear fingers, into the companionship of the two sisters who went to the Immortal Fountain.

As I sit by the window writing to you, it is so lovely to have the soft, cool breezes fan my cheek and to feel that the hard work of last year is over! Teacher seems to feel benefitted by the change too; for she is already beginning to look like her dear old self. We only need you, dear Mr. Hitz, to complete our happiness. Teacher and Mrs. Hopkins both say you must come as soon as you can! We will try to make you comfortable.

Teacher and I spent nine days at Philadelphia. Have you ever been at Dr. Crouter’s Institution? Mr. Howes has probably given you a full account of our doings. We were busy all the time; we attended the meetings and talked with hundreds of people, among whom were dear Dr. Bell, Mr. Banerji of Calcutta, Monsieur Magnat of Paris with whom I conversed in French exclusively, and many other distinguished persons. We had looked forward to seeing you there, and so we were greatly disappointed that you did not come. We think of you so, so often! and our hearts go out to you in tenderest sympathy; and you know better than this poor letter can tell you how happy we always are to have you with us! I made a “speech” on July eighth, telling the members of the Association what an unspeakable blessing speech has been to me, and urging them to give every little deaf child an opportunity to learn to speak. Every one said I spoke very well and intelligibly. After my little “speech,” we attended a reception at which over six hundred people were present. I must confess I do not like such large receptions; the people crowd so, and we have to do so much talking; and yet it is at receptions like the one in Philadelphia that we often meet friends whom we learn to love afterwards. We left the city last Thursday night, and arrived in Brewster Friday afternoon. We missed the Cape Cod train Friday morning, and so we came down to Provincetown in the steamer Longfellow. I am glad we did so; for it was lovely and cool on the water, and Boston Harbor is always interesting.

We spent about three weeks in Boston, after leaving New York, and I need not tell you we had a most delightful time. We visited our good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlin, at Wrentham, out in the country, where they have a lovely home. Their house stands near a charming lake where we went boating and canoeing, which was great fun. We also went in bathing several times. Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlin celebrated the 17th of June by giving a picnic to their literary friends. There were about forty persons present, all of whom were writers and publishers. Our friend, Mr. Alden, the editor of Harper’s was there, and of course we enjoyed his society very much….

TO CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER
Brewster, Mass., September 3, 1896. …I have been meaning to write to you all summer; there were many things I wanted to tell you, and I thought perhaps you would like to hear about our vacation by the seaside, and our plans for next year; but the happy, idle days slipped away so quickly, and there were so many pleasant things to do every moment, that I never found time to clothe my thought in words, and send them to you. I wonder what becomes of lost opportunities. Perhaps our guardian angel gathers them up as we drop them, and will give them back to us in the beautiful sometime when we have grown wiser, and learned how to use them rightly. But, however this may be, I cannot now write the letter which has lain in my thought for you so long. My heart is too full of sadness to dwell upon the happiness the summer has brought me. My father is dead. He died last Saturday at my home in Tuscumbia, and I was not there. My own dear loving father! Oh, dear friend, how shall I ever bear it!…

On the first of October Miss Keller entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, of which Mr. Arthur Gilman is Principal. The “examinations” mentioned in this letter were merely tests given in the school, but as they were old Harvard papers, it is evident that in some subjects Miss Keller was already fairly well prepared for Radcliffe.

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
37 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, Mass. October 8, 1896.
…I got up early this morning, so that I could write you a few lines. I know you want to hear how I like my school. I do wish you could come and see for yourself what a beautiful school it is! There are about a hundred girls, and they are all so bright and happy; it is a joy to be with them.

You will be glad to hear that I passed my examinations successfully. I have been examined in English, German, French, and Greek and Roman history. They were the entrance examinations for Harvard College; so I feel pleased to think I could pass them. This year is going to be a very busy one for Teacher and myself. I am studying Arithmetic, English Literature, English History, German, Latin, and advanced geography; there is a great deal of preparatory reading required, and, as few of the books are in raised print, poor Teacher has to spell them all out to me; and that means hard work.

You must tell Mr. Howells when you see him, that we are living in his house….

TO MRS. WILLIAM THAW
37 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, Mass., December 2, 1896.
…It takes me a long time to prepare my lessons, because I have to have every word of them spelled out in my hand. Not one of the textbooks which I am obliged to use is in raised print; so of course my work is harder than it would be if I could read my lessons over by myself. But it is harder for Teacher than it is for me because the strain on her poor eyes is so great, and I cannot help worrying about them. Sometimes it really seems as if the task which we have set ourselves were more than we can accomplish; but at other times I enjoy my work more than I can say.

It is such a delight to be with the other girls, and do everything that they do. I study Latin, German, Arithmetic and English History, all of which I enjoy except Arithmetic. I am afraid I have not a mathematical mind; for my figures always manage to get into the wrong places!…

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
Cambridge, Mass., May 3, 1897.
…You know I am trying very hard to get through with the reading for the examinations in June, and this, in addition to my regular schoolwork keeps me awfully busy. But Johnson, and “The Plague” and everything else must wait a few minutes this afternoon, while I say, thank you, my dear Mrs. Hutton….

…What a splendid time we had at the “Players’ Club.” I always thought clubs were dull, smoky places, where men talked politics, and told endless stories, all about themselves and their wonderful exploits: but now I see, I must have been quite wrong….

TO MR. JOHN HITZ
Wrentham, Mass. July 9, 1897.
…Teacher and I are going to spend the summer at Wrentham, Mass. with our friends, the Chamberlins. I think you remember Mr. Chamberlin, the “Listener” in the Boston Transcript. They are dear, kind people….

But I know you want to hear about my examinations. I know that you will be glad to hear that I passed all of them successfully. The subjects I offered were elementary and advanced German, French, Latin, English, and Greek and Roman History. It seems almost too good to be true, does it not? All the time I was preparing for the great ordeal, I could not suppress an inward fear and trembling lest I should fail, and now it is an unspeakable relief to know that I have passed the examinations with credit. But what I consider my crown of success is the happiness and pleasure that my victory has brought dear Teacher. Indeed, I feel that the success is hers more than mine; for she is my constant inspiration….

At the end of September Miss Sullivan and Miss Keller returned to the Cambridge School, where they remained until early in December. Then the interference of Mr. Gilman resulted in Mrs. Keller’s withdrawing Miss Helen and her sister, Miss Mildred, from the school. Miss Sullivan and her pupil went to Wrentham, where they worked under Mr. Merton S. Keith, an enthusiastic and skilful teacher.

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
Wrentham, February 20, 1898.
…I resumed my studies soon after your departure, and in a very little while we were working as merrily as if the dreadful experience of a month ago had been but a dream. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy the country. It is so fresh, and peaceful and free! I do think I could work all day long without feeling tired if they would let me. There are so many pleasant things to do–not always very easy things,–much of my work in Algebra and Geometry is hard: but I love it all, especially Greek. Just think, I shall soon finish my grammar! Then comes the “Iliad.” What an inexpressible joy it will be to read about Achilles, and Ulysses, and Andromache and Athene, and the rest of my old friends in their own glorious language! I think Greek is the loveliest language that I know anything about. If it is true that the violin is the most perfect of musical instruments, then Greek is the violin of human thought.

We have had some splendid toboganning this month. Every morning, before lesson-time, we all go out to the steep hill on the northern shore of the lake near the house, and coast for an hour or so. Some one balances the toboggan on the very crest of the hill, while we get on, and when we are ready, off we dash down the side of the hill in a headlong rush, and, leaping a projection, plunge into a snow-drift and go swimming far across the pond at a tremendous rate!…

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
[Wrentham] April 12, 1898.
…I am glad Mr. Keith is so well pleased with my progress. It is true that Algebra and Geometry are growing easier all the time, especially algebra; and I have just received books in raised print which will greatly facilitate my work….

I find I get on faster, and do better work with Mr. Keith than I did in the classes at the Cambridge School, and I think it was well that I gave up that kind of work. At any rate, I have not been idle since I left school; I have accomplished more, and been happier than I could have been there….

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
[Wrentham] May 29, 1898.
…My work goes on bravely. Each day is filled to the brim with hard study; for I am anxious to accomplish as much as possible before I put away my books for the summer vacation. You will be pleased to hear that I did three problems in Geometry yesterday without assistance. Mr. Keith and Teacher were quite enthusiastic over the achievement, and I must confess, I felt somewhat elated myself. Now I feel as if I should succeed in doing something in mathematics, although I cannot see why it is so very important to know that the lines drawn from the extremities of the base of an isosceles triangle to the middle points of the opposite sides are equal! The knowledge doesn’t make life any sweeter or happier, does it? On the other hand, when we learn a new word, it is the key to untold treasures….

TO CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER
Wrentham, Mass., June 7, 1898.
I am afraid you will conclude that I am not very anxious for a tandem after all, since I have let nearly a week pass without answering your letter in regard to the kind of wheel I should like. But really, I have been so constantly occupied with my studies since we returned from New York, that I have not had time even to think of the fun it would be to have a bicycle! You see, I am anxious to accomplish as much as possible before the long summer vacation begins. I am glad, though, that it is nearly time to put away my books; for the sunshine and flowers, and the lovely lake in front of our house are doing their best to tempt me away from my Greek and Mathematics, especially from the latter! I am sure the daisies and buttercups have as little use for the science of Geometry as I, in spite of the fact that they so beautifully illustrate its principles.

But bless me, I mustn’t forget the tandem! The truth is, I know very little about bicycles. I have only ridden a “sociable,” which is very different from the ordinary tandem. The “sociable” is safer, perhaps, than the tandem; but it is very heavy and awkward, and has a way of taking up the greater part of the road. Besides, I have been told that “sociables” cost more than other kinds of bicycles. My teacher and other friends think I could ride a Columbia tandem in the country with perfect safety. They also think your suggestion about a fixed handlebar a good one. I ride with a divided skirt, and so does my teacher; but it would be easier for her to mount a man’s wheel than for me; so, if it could be arranged to have the ladies’ seat behind, I think it would be better….

TO MISS CAROLINE DERBY
Wrentham, September 11, 1898.
…I am out of doors all the time, rowing, swimming, riding and doing a multitude of other pleasant things. This morning I rode over twelve miles on my tandem! I rode on a rough road, and fell off three or four times, and am now awfully lame! But the weather and the scenery were so beautiful, and it was such fun to go scooting over the smoother part of the road, I didn’t mind the mishaps in the least.

I have really learned to swim and dive–after a fashion! I can swim a little under water, and do almost anything I like, without fear of getting drowned! Isn’t that fine? It is almost no effort for me to row around the lake, no matter how heavy the load may be. So you can well imagine how strong and brown I am….

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
12 Newbury Street, Boston,
October 23, 1898.
This is the first opportunity I have had to write to you since we came here last Monday. We have been in such a whirl ever since we decided to come to Boston; it seemed as if we should never get settled. Poor Teacher has had her hands full, attending to movers, and express-men, and all sorts of people. I wish it were not such a bother to move, especially as we have to do it so often!…

…Mr. Keith comes here at half past three every day except Saturday. He says he prefers to come here for the present. I am reading the “Iliad,” and the “Aeneid” and Cicero, besides doing a lot in Geometry and Algebra. The “Iliad” is beautiful with all the truth, and grace and simplicity of a wonderfully childlike people while the “Aeneid” is more stately and reserved. It is like a beautiful maiden, who always lived in a palace, surrounded by a magnificent court; while the “Iliad” is like a splendid youth, who has had the earth for his playground.

The weather has been awfully dismal all the week; but to-day is beautiful, and our room floor is flooded with sunlight. By and by we shall take a little walk in the Public Gardens. I wish the Wrentham woods were round the corner! But alas! they are not, and I shall have to content myself with a stroll in the Gardens. Somehow, after the great fields and pastures and lofty pine-groves of the country, they seem shut-in and conventional. Even the trees seem citified and self-conscious. Indeed, I doubt if they are on speaking terms with their country cousins! Do you know, I cannot help feeling sorry for these trees with all their fashionable airs? They are like the people whom they see every day, who prefer the crowded, noisy city to the quiet and freedom of the country. They do not even suspect how circumscribed their lives are. They look down pityingly on the country-folk, who have never had an opportunity “to see the great world.” Oh my! if they only realized their limitations, they would flee for their lives to the woods and fields. But what nonsense is this! You will think I’m pining away for my beloved Wrentham, which is true in one sense and not in another. I do miss Red Farm and the dear ones there dreadfully; but I am not unhappy. I have Teacher and my books, and I have the certainty that something sweet and good will come to me in this great city, where human beings struggle so bravely all their lives to wring happiness from cruel circumstances. Anyway, I am glad to have my share in life, whether it be bright or sad….

TO MRS. WILLIAM THAW
Boston, December 6th, 1898.
My teacher and I had a good laugh over the girls’ frolic. How funny they must have looked in their “rough-rider” costumes, mounted upon their fiery steeds! “Slim” would describe them, if they were anything like the saw-horses I have seen. What jolly times they must have at –! I cannot help wishing sometimes that I could have some of the fun that other girls have. How quickly I should lock up all these mighty warriors, and hoary sages, and impossible heroes, who are now almost my only companions; and dance and sing and frolic like other girls! But I must not waste my time wishing idle wishes; and after all my ancient friends are very wise and interesting, and I usually enjoy their society very much indeed. It is only once in a great while that I feel discontented, and allow myself to wish for things I cannot hope for in this life. But, as you know, my heart is usually brimful of happiness. The thought that my dear Heavenly Father is always near, giving me abundantly of all those things, which truly enrich life and make it sweet and beautiful, makes every deprivation seem of little moment compared with the countless blessings I enjoy.

TO MRS. WILLIAM THAW
12 Newbury Street, Boston,
December 19th, 1898.
…I realize now what a selfish, greedy girl I was to ask that my cup of happiness should be filled to overflowing, without stopping to think how many other people’s cups were quite empty. I feel heartily ashamed of my thoughtlessness. One of the childish illusions, which it has been hardest for me to get rid of, is that we have only to make our wishes known in order to have them granted. But I am slowly learning that there is not happiness enough in the world for everyone to have all that he wants; and it grieves me to think that I should have forgotten, even for a moment, that I already have more than my share, and that like poor little Oliver Twist I should have asked for “more.”…

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
12 Newberry Street, Boston.
December 22, [1898]
…I suppose Mr. Keith writes you the work-a-day news. If so, you know that I have finished all the geometry, and nearly all the Algebra required for the Harvard examinations, and after Christmas I shall begin a very careful review of both subjects. You will be glad to hear that I enjoy Mathematics now. Why, I can do long, complicated quadratic equations in my head quite easily, and it is great fun! I think Mr. Keith is a wonderful teacher, and I feel very grateful to him for having made me see the beauty of Mathematics. Next to my own dear teacher, he has done more than any one else to enrich and broaden my mind.

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
12 Newbury Street, Boston,
January 17, 1899.
…Have you seen Kipling’s “Dreaming True,” or “Kitchener’s School?” It is a very strong poem and set me dreaming too. Of course you have read about the “Gordon Memorial College,” which the English people are to erect at Khartoum. While I was thinking over the blessings that would come to the people of Egypt through this college, and eventually to England herself, there came into my heart the strong desire that my own dear country should in a similar way convert the terrible loss of her brave sons on the “Maine” into a like blessing to the people of Cuba. Would a college at Havana not be the noblest and most enduring monument that could be raised to the brave men of the “Maine,” as well as a source of infinite good to all concerned? Imagine entering the Havana harbor, and having the pier, where the “Maine” was anchored on that dreadful night, when she was so mysteriously destroyed, pointed out to you, and being told that the great, beautiful building overlooking the spot was the “Maine Memorial College,” erected by the American people, and having for its object the education both of Cubans and Spaniards! What a glorious triumph such a monument would be of the best and highest instincts of a Christian nation! In it there would be no suggestion of hatred or revenge, nor a trace of the old-time belief that might makes right. On the other hand, it would be a pledge to the world that we intend to stand by our declaration of war, and give Cuba to the Cubans, as soon as we have fitted them to assume the duties and responsibilities of a self-governing people….

TO MR. JOHN HITZ
12 Newbury Street, Boston,
February 3, 1899.
…I had an exceedingly interesting experience last Monday. A kind friend took me over in the morning to the Boston Art Museum. She had previously obtained permission from General Loring, Supt. of the Museum, for me to touch the statues, especially those which represented my old friends in the “Iliad” and “Aeneid.” Was that not lovely? While I was there, General Loring himself came in, and showed me some of the most beautiful statues, among which were the Venus of Medici, the Minerva of the Parthenon, Diana, in her hunting costume, with her hand on the quiver and a doe by her side, and the unfortunate Laocoon and his two little sons, struggling in the fearful coils of two huge serpents, and stretching their arms to the skies with heart-rending cries. I also saw Apollo Belvidere. He had just slain the Python and was standing by a great pillar of rock, extending his graceful hand in triumph over the terrible snake. Oh, he was simply beautiful! Venus entranced me. She looked as if she had just risen from the foam of the sea, and her loveliness was like a strain of heavenly music. I also saw poor Niobe with her youngest child clinging close to her while she implored the cruel goddess not to kill her last darling. I almost cried, it was all so real and tragic. General Loring kindly showed me a copy of one of the wonderful bronze doors of the Baptistry of Florence, and I felt of the graceful pillars, resting on the backs of fierce lions. So you see, I had a foretaste of the pleasure which I hope some day to have of visiting Florence. My friend said, she would sometime show me the copies of the marbles brought away by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon. But somehow, I should prefer to see the originals in the place where Genius meant them to remain, not only as a hymn of praise to the gods, but also as a monument of the glory of Greece. It really seems wrong to snatch such sacred things away from the sanctuary of the Past where they belong….

TO MR. WILLIAM WADE
Boston, February 19th, 1899.
Why, bless you, I thought I wrote to you the day after the “Eclogues” arrived, and told you how glad I was to have them! Perhaps you never got that letter. At any rate, I thank you, dear friend, for taking such a world of trouble for me. You will be glad to hear that the books from England are coming now. I already have the seventh and eighth books of the “Aeneid” and one book of the “Iliad,” all of which is most fortunate, as I have come almost to the end of my embossed text-books.

It gives me great pleasure to hear how much is being done for the deaf-blind. The more I learn of them, the more kindness I find. Why, only a little while ago people thought it quite impossible to teach the deaf-blind anything; but no sooner was it proved possible than hundreds of kind, sympathetic hearts were fired with the desire to help them, and now we see how many of those poor, unfortunate persons are being taught to see the beauty and reality of life. Love always finds its way to an imprisoned soul, and leads it out into the world of freedom and intelligence!

As to the two-handed alphabet, I think it is much easier for those who have sight than the manual alphabet; for most of the letters look like the large capitals in books; but I think when it comes to teaching a deaf-blind person to spell, the manual alphabet is much more convenient, and less conspicuous….

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
12 Newbury Street, Boston,
March 5, 1899.
…I am now sure that I shall be ready for my examinations in June. There is but one cloud in my sky at present; but that is one which casts a dark shadow over my life, and makes me very anxious at times. My teacher’s eyes are no better: indeed, I think they grow more troublesome, though she is very brave and patient, and will not give up. But it is most distressing to me to feel that she is sacrificing her sight for me. I feel as if I ought to give up the idea of going to college altogether: for not all the knowledge in the world could make me happy, if obtained at such a cost. I do wish, Mrs. Hutton, you would try to persuade Teacher to take a rest, and have her eyes treated. She will not listen to me.

I have just had some pictures taken, and if they are good, I would like to send one to Mr. Rogers, if you think he would like to have it. I would like so much to show him in some way how deeply I appreciate all that he is doing for me, and I cannot think of anything better to do.

Every one here is talking about the Sargent pictures. It is a wonderful exhibition of portraits, they say. How I wish I had eyes to see them! How I should delight in their beauty and color! However, I am glad that I am not debarred from all pleasure in the pictures. I have at least the satisfaction of seeing them through the eyes of my friends, which is a real pleasure. I am so thankful that I can rejoice in the beauties, which my friends gather and put into my hands!

We are all so glad and thankful that Mr. Kipling did not die! I have his “Jungle-Book” in raised print, and what a splendid, refreshing book it is! I cannot help feeling as if I knew its gifted author. What a real, manly, lovable nature his must be!…

TO DR. DAVID H. GREER
12 Newbury Street, Boston,
May 8, 1899.
…Each day brings me all that I can possibly accomplish, and each night brings me rest, and the sweet thought that I am a little nearer to my goal than ever before. My Greek progresses finely. I have finished the ninth book of the “Iliad” and am just beginning the “Odyssey.” I am also reading the “Aeneid” and the “Eclogues.” Some of my friends tell me that I am very foolish to give so much time to Greek and Latin; but I am sure they would not think so, if they realized what a wonderful world of experience and thought Homer and Virgil have opened up to me. I think I shall enjoy the “Odyssey” most of all. The “Iliad” tells of almost nothing but war, and one sometimes wearies of the clash of spears and the din of battle; but the “Odyssey” tells of nobler courage–the courage of a soul sore tried, but steadfast to the end. I often wonder, as I read these splendid poems why, at the same time that Homer’s songs of war fired the Greeks with valor, his songs of manly virtue did not have a stronger influence upon the spiritual life of the people. Perhaps the reason is, that thoughts truly great are like seeds cast into the human mind, and either lie there unnoticed, or are tossed about and played with, like toys, until, grown wise through suffering and experience, a race discovers and cultivates them. Then the world has advanced one step in its heavenward march.

I am working very hard just now. I intend to take my examinations in June, and there is a great deal to be done, before I shall feel ready to meet the ordeal….

You will be glad to hear that my mother, and little sister and brother are coming north to spend this summer with me. We shall all live together in a small cottage on one of the lakes at Wrentham, while my dear teacher takes a much needed rest. She has not had a vacation for twelve years, think of it, and all that time she has been the sunshine of my life. Now her eyes are troubling her a great deal, and we all think she ought to be relieved, for a while, of every care and responsibility. But we shall not be quite separated; we shall see each other every day, I hope. And, when July comes, you can think of me as rowing my dear ones around the lovely lake in the little boat you gave me, the happiest girl in the world!…

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
[Boston] May 28th [1899].
…We have had a hard day. Mr. Keith was here for three hours this afternoon, pouring a torrent of Latin and Greek into my poor bewildered brain. I really believe he knows more Latin and Greek Grammar than Cicero or Homer ever dreamed of! Cicero is splendid, but his orations are very difficult to translate. I feel ashamed sometimes, when I make that eloquent man say what sounds absurd or insipid; but how is a school-girl to interpret such genius? Why, I should have to be a Cicero to talk like a Cicero!…

Linnie Haguewood is a deaf-blind girl, one of the many whom Mr. William Wade has helped. She is being educated by Miss Dora Donald who, at the beginning of her work with her pupil, was supplied by Mr. Hitz, Superintendent of the Volta Bureau, with copies of all documents relating to Miss Sullivan’s work with Miss Keller.

TO MR. WILLIAM WADE
Wrentham, Mass., June 5, 1899.
…Linnie Haguewood’s letter, which you sent me some weeks ago, interested me very much. It seemed to show spontaneity and great sweetness of character. I was a good deal amused by what she said about history. I am sorry she does not enjoy it; but I too feel sometimes how dark, and mysterious and even fearful the history of old peoples, old religions and old forms of government really is.

Well, I must confess, I do not like the sign-language, and I do not think it would be of much use to the deaf-blind. I find it very difficult to follow the rapid motions made by the deaf-mutes, and besides, signs seem a great hindrance to them in acquiring the power of using language easily and freely. Why, I find it hard to understand them sometimes when they spell on their fingers. On the whole, if they cannot be taught articulation, the manual alphabet seems the best and most convenient means of communication. At any rate, I am sure the deaf-blind cannot learn to use signs with any degree of facility.

The other day, I met a deaf Norwegian gentleman, who knows Ragnhild Kaata and her teacher very well, and we had a very interesting conversation about her. He said she was very industrious and happy. She spins, and does a great deal of fancy work, and reads, and leads a pleasant, useful life. Just think, she cannot use the manual alphabet! She reads the lips well, and if she cannot understand a phrase, her friends write it in her hand, and in this way she converses with strangers. I cannot make out anything written in my hand, so you see, Ragnhild has got ahead of me in some things. I do hope I shall see her sometime…

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
Wrentham, July 29, 1899.
…I passed in all the subjects I offered, and with credit in advanced Latin…. But I must confess, I had a hard time on the second day of my examinations. They would not allow Teacher to read any of the papers to me; so the papers were copied for me in braille. This arrangement worked very well in the languages, but not nearly so well in the Mathematics. Consequently, I did not do so well as I should have done, if Teacher had been allowed to read the Algebra and Geometry to me. But you must not think I blame any one. Of course they did not realize how difficult and perplexing they were making the examinations for me. How could they–they can see and hear, and I suppose they could not understand matters from my point of view….

Thus far my summer has been sweeter than anything I can remember. My mother, and sister and little brother have been here five weeks, and our happiness knows no bounds. Not only do we enjoy being together; but we also find our little home most delightful. I do wish you could see the view of the beautiful lake from our piazza, the islands looking like little emerald peaks in the golden sunlight, and the canoes flitting here and there, like autumn leaves in the gentle breeze, and breathe in the peculiarly delicious fragrance of the woods, which comes like a murmur from an unknown clime. I cannot help wondering if it is the same fragrance that greeted the Norsemen long ago, when, according to tradition, they visited our shores–an odorous echo of many centuries of silent growth and decay in flower and tree….

TO MRS. SAMUEL RICHARD FULLER
Wrentham, October 20, 1899.
…I suppose it is time for me to tell you something about our plans for the winter. You know it has long been my ambition to go to Radcliffe, and receive a degree, as many other girls have done; but Dean Irwin of Radcliffe, has persuaded me to take a special course for the present. She said I had already shown the world that I could do the college work, by passing all my examinations successfully, in spite of many obstacles. She showed me how very foolish it would be for me to pursue a four years’ course of study at Radcliffe, simply to be like other girls, when I might better be cultivating whatever ability I had for writing. She said she did not consider a degree of any real value, but thought it was much more desirable to do something original than to waste one’s energies only for a degree. Her arguments seemed so wise and practical, that I could not but yield. I found it hard, very hard, to give up the idea of going to college; it had been in my mind ever since I was a little girl; but there is no use doing a foolish thing, because one has wanted to do it a long time, is there?

But, while we were discussing plans for the winter, a suggestion which Dr. Hale had made long ago flashed across Teacher’s mind–that I might take courses somewhat like those offered at Radcliffe, under the instruction of the professors in these courses. Miss Irwin seemed to have no objection to this proposal, and kindly offered to see the professors and find out if they would give me lessons. If they will be so good as to teach me and if we have money enough to do as we have planned, my studies this year will be English, English Literature of the Elizabethan period, Latin and German….

TO MR. JOHN HITZ
138 Brattle St., Cambridge,
Nov. 11, 1899.
…As to the braille question, I cannot tell how deeply it distresses me to hear that my statement with regard to the examinations has been doubted. Ignorance seems to be at the bottom of all these contradictions. Why, you yourself seem to think that I taught you American braille, when you do not know a single letter in the system! I could not help laughing when you said you had been writing to me in American braille–and there you were writing your letter in English braille!

The facts about the braille examinations are as follows:

How I passed my Entrance Examinations for Radcliffe College.

On the 29th and 30th of June, 1899, I took my examinations for Radcliffe College. The first day I had elementary Greek and advanced Latin, and the second day Geometry, Algebra and advanced Greek.

The college authorities would not permit Miss Sullivan to read the examination papers to me; so Mr. Eugene C. Vining, one of the instructors at the Perkins Institution for the Blind, was employed to copy the papers for me in braille. Mr. Vining was a perfect stranger to me, and could not communicate with me except by writing in braille. The Proctor also was a stranger, and did not attempt to communicate with me in any way; and, as they were both unfamiliar with my speech, they could not readily understand what I said to them.

However, the braille worked well enough in the languages; but when it came to Geometry and Algebra, it was different. I was sorely perplexed, and felt quite discouraged, and wasted much precious time, especially in Algebra. It is true that I am perfectly familiar with all literary braille–English, American, and New York Point; but the method of writing the various signs used in Geometry and Algebra in the three systems is very different, and two days before the examinations I knew only the English method. I had used it all through my school work, and never any other system.

In Geometry, my chief difficulty was, that I had always been accustomed to reading the propositions in Line Print, or having them spelled into my hand; and somehow, although the propositions were right before me, yet the braille confused me, and I could not fix in my mind clearly what I was reading. But, when I took up Algebra, I had a harder time still–I was terribly handicapped by my imperfect knowledge of the notation. The signs, which I had learned the day before, and which I thought I knew perfectly, confused me. Consequently my work was painfully slow, and I was obliged to read the examples over and over before I could form a clear idea what I was required to do. Indeed, I am not sure now that I read all the signs correctly, especially as I was much distressed, and found it very hard to keep my wits about me….

Now there is one more fact, which I wish to state very plainly, in regard to what Mr. Gilman wrote to you. I never received any direct instruction in the Gilman School. Miss Sullivan always sat beside me, and told me what the teachers said. I did teach Miss Hall, my teacher in Physics, how to write the American braille, but she never gave me any instruction by means of it, unless a few problems written for practice, which made me waste much precious time deciphering them, can be called instruction. Dear Frau Grote learned the manual alphabet, and used to teach me herself; but this was in private lessons, which were paid for by my friends. In the German class Miss Sullivan interpreted to me as well as she could what the teacher said.

Perhaps, if you would send a copy of this to the head of the Cambridge School, it might enlighten his mind on a few subjects, on which he seems to be in total darkness just now….

TO MISS MILDRED KELLER
138 Brattle Street, Cambridge,
November 26, 1899.
…At last we are settled for the winter, and our work is going smoothly. Mr. Keith comes every afternoon at four o’clock, and gives me a “friendly lift” over the rough stretches of road, over which every student must go. I am studying English history, English literature, French and Latin, and by and by I shall take up German and English composition–let us groan! You know, I detest grammar as much as you do; but I suppose I must go through it if I am to write, just as we had to get ducked in the lake hundreds of times before we could swim! In French Teacher is reading “Columba” to me. It is a delightful novel, full of piquant expressions and thrilling adventures, (don’t dare to blame me for using big words, since you do the same!) and, if you ever read it, I think you will enjoy it immensely. You are studying English history, aren’t you. O but it’s exceedingly interesting! I’m making quite a thorough study of the Elizabethan period–of the Reformation, and the Acts of Supremacy and Conformity, and the maritime discoveries, and all the big things, which the “deuce” seems to have invented to plague innocent youngsters like yourself!…

Now we have a swell winter outfit–coats, hats, gowns, flannels and all. We’ve just had four lovely dresses made by a French dressmaker. I have two, of which one has a black silk skirt, with a black lace net over it, and a waist of white poplin, with turquoise velvet and chiffon, and cream lace over a satin yoke. The other is woollen, and of a very pretty green. The waist is trimmed with pink and green brocaded velvet, and white lace, I think, and has double reefers on the front, tucked and trimmed with velvet, and also a row of tiny white buttons. Teacher too has a silk dress. The skirt is black, while the waist is mostly yellow, trimmed with delicate lavender chiffon, and black velvet bows and lace. Her other dress is purple, trimmed with purple velvet, and the waist has a collar of cream lace. So you may imagine that we look quite like peacocks, only we’ve no trains….

A week ago yesterday there was [a] great football game between Harvard and Yale, and there was tremendous excitement here. We could hear the yells of the boys and the cheers of the lookers-on as plainly in our room as if we had been on the field. Colonel Roosevelt was there, on Harvard’s side; but bless you, he wore a white sweater, and no crimson that we know of! There were about twenty-five thousand people at the game, and, when we went out, the noise was so terrific, we nearly jumped out of our skins, thinking it was the din of war, and not of a football game that we heard. But, in spite of all their wild efforts, neither side was scored, and we all laughed and said, “Oh, well now the pot can’t call the kettle black!”…

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
559 Madison Avenue, New York,
January 2, 1900.
…We have been here a week now, and are going to stay with Miss Rhoades until Saturday. We are enjoying every moment of our visit, every one is so good to us. We have seen many of our old friends, and made some new ones. We dined with the Rogers last Friday, and oh, they were so kind to us! The thought of their gentle courtesy and genuine kindness brings a warm glow of joy and gratitude to my heart. I have seen Dr. Greer too. He has such a kind heart! I love him more than ever. We went to St. Bartholomew’s Sunday, and I have not felt so much at home in a church since dear Bishop Brooks died. Dr. Greer read so slowly, that my teacher could tell me every word. His people must have wondered at his unusual deliberation. After the service he asked Mr. Warren, the organist to play for me. I stood in the middle of the church, where the vibrations from the great organ were strongest, and I felt the mighty waves of sound beat against me, as the great billows beat against a little ship at sea.

TO MR. JOHN HITZ
138 Brattle Street, Cambridge,
Feb. 3, 1900.
…My studies are more interesting than ever. In Latin, I am reading Horace’s odes. Although I find them difficult to translate, yet I think they are the loveliest pieces of Latin poetry I have read or shall ever read. In French we have finished “Colomba,” and I am reading “Horace” by Corneille and La Fontaine’s fables, both of which are in braille. I have not gone far in either; but I know I shall enjoy the fables, they are so delightfully written, and give such good lessons in a simple and yet attractive way. I do not think I have told you that my dear teacher is reading “The Faery Queen” to me. I am afraid I find fault with the poem as much as I enjoy it. I do not care much for the allegories, indeed I often find them tiresome, and I cannot help thinking that Spenser’s world of knights, paynims, fairies, dragons and all sorts of strange creatures is a somewhat grotesque and amusing world; but the poem itself is lovely and as musical as a running brook.

I am now the proud owner of about fifteen new books, which we ordered from Louisville. Among them are “Henry Esmond,” “Bacon’s Essays” and extracts from “English Literature.” Perhaps next week I shall have some more books, “The Tempest,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and possibly some selections from Green’s history of England. Am I not very fortunate?

I am afraid this letter savors too much of books–but really they make up my whole life these days, and I scarcely see or hear of anything else! I do believe I sleep on books every night! You know a student’s life is of necessity somewhat circumscribed and narrow and crowds out almost everything that is not in books….

TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE ACADEMIC BOARD OF RADCLIFFE COLLEGE 138 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass.,
May 5, 1900.
Dear Sir:
As an aid to me in determining my plans for study the coming year, I apply to you for information as to the possibility of my taking the regular courses in Radcliffe College.

Since receiving my certificate of admission to Radcliffe last July, I have been studying with a private tutor, Horace, Aeschylus, French, German, Rhetoric, English History, English Literature and Criticism, and English composition.

In college I should wish to continue most, if not all of these subjects. The conditions under which I work require the presence of Miss Sullivan, who has been my teacher and companion for thirteen years, as an interpreter of oral speech and as a reader of examination papers. In college she, or possibly in some subjects some one else, would of necessity be with me in the lecture-room and at recitations. I should do all my written work on a typewriter, and if a Professor could not understand my speech, I could write out my answers to his questions and hand them to him after the recitation.

Is it possible for the College to accommodate itself to these unprecedented conditions, so as to enable me to pursue my studies at Radcliffe? I realize that the obstacles in the way of my receiving a college education are very great–to others they may seem insurmountable; but, dear Sir, a true soldier does not acknowledge defeat before the battle.

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
38 Brattle Street, Cambridge,
June 9, 1900.
…I have not yet heard from the Academic Board in reply to my letter; but I sincerely hope they will answer favorably. My friends think it very strange that they should hesitate so long, especially when I have not asked them to simplify my work in the least, but only to modify it so as to meet the existing circumstances. Cornell has offered to make arrangements suited to the conditions under which I work, if I should decide to go to that college, and the University of Chicago has made a similar offer, but I am afraid if I went to any other college, it would be thought that I did not pass my examinations for Radcliffe satisfactorily….

In the fall Miss Keller entered Radcliffe College.

TO MR. JOHN HITZ
14 Coolidge Ave., Cambridge,
Nov. 26, 1900.
…– has already communicated with you in regard to her and my plan of establishing an institution for deaf and blind children. At first I was most enthusiastic in its support, and I never dreamed that any grave objections could be raised except indeed by those who are hostile to Teacher, but now, after thinking most SERIOUSLY and consulting my friends, I have decided that –‘s plan is by no means feasible. In my eagerness to make it possible for deaf and blind children to have the same advantages that I have had, I quite forgot that there might be many obstacles in the way of my accomplishing anything like what — proposed.

My friends thought we might have one or two pupils in our own home, thereby securing to me the advantage of being helpful to others without any of the disadvantages of a large school. They were very kind; but I could not help feeling that they spoke more from a business than a humanitarian point of view. I am sure they did not quite understand how passionately I desire that all who are afflicted like myself shall receive their rightful inheritance of thought, knowledge and love. Still I could not shut my eyes to the force and weight of their arguments, and I saw plainly that I must abandon –‘s scheme as impracticable. They also said that I ought to appoint an advisory committee to control my affairs while I am at Radcliffe. I considered this suggestion carefully, then I told Mr. Rhoades that I should be proud and glad to have wise friends to whom I could always turn for advice in all important matters. For this committee I chose six, my mother, Teacher, because she is like a mother to me, Mrs. Hutton, Mr. Rhoades, Dr. Greer and Mr. Rogers, because it is they who have supported me all these years and made it possible for me to enter college. Mrs. Hutton had already written to mother, asking her to telegraph if she was willing for me to have other advisers besides herself and Teacher. This morning we received word that mother had given her consent to this arrangement. Now it remains for me to write to Dr. Greer and Mr. Rogers….

We had a long talk with Dr. Bell. Finally he proposed a plan which delighted us all beyond words. He said that it was a gigantic blunder to attempt to found a school for deaf and blind children, because then they would lose the most precious opportunities of entering into the fuller, richer, freer life of seeing and hearing children. I had had misgivings on this point; but I could not see how we were to help it. However Mr. Bell suggested that — and all her friends who are interested in her scheme should organize an association for the promotion of the education of the deaf and blind, Teacher and myself being included of course. Under his plan they were to appoint Teacher to train others to instruct deaf and blind children in their own homes, just as she had taught me. Funds were to be raised for the teachers’ lodgings and also for their salaries. At the same time Dr. Bell added that I could rest content and fight my way through Radcliffe in competition with seeing and hearing girls, while the great desire of my heart was being fulfilled. We clapped our hands and shouted; — went away beaming with pleasure, and Teacher and I felt more light of heart than we had for sometime. Of course we can do nothing just now; but the painful anxiety about my college work and the future welfare of the deaf and blind has been lifted from our minds. Do tell me what you think about Dr. Bell’s suggestion. It seems most practical and wise to me; but I must know all that there is to be known about it before I speak or act in the matter….

TO MR. JOHN D. WRIGHT
Cambridge, December 9, 1900.
Do you think me a villain and–I can’t think of a word bad enough to express your opinion of me, unless indeed horse-thief will answer the purpose. Tell me truly, do you think me as bad as that? I hope not; for I have thought many letters to you which never got on paper, and I am delighted to get your good letter, yes, I really was, and I intended to answer it immediately, but the days slip by unnoticed when one is busy, and I have been VERY busy this fall. You must believe that. Radcliffe girls are always up to their ears in work. If you doubt it, you’d better come and see for yourself.

Yes, I am taking the regular college course for a degree. When I am a B.A., I suppose you will not dare call me a villain! I am studying English–Sophomore English, if you please, (though I can’t see that it is different from just plain English) German, French and History. I’m enjoying my work even more than I expected to, which is another way of saying that I’m glad I came. It is hard, very hard at times; but it hasn’t swamped me yet. No, I am not studying Mathematics, or Greek or Latin either. The courses at Radcliffe are elective, only certain courses in English are prescribed. I passed off my English and advanced French before I entered college, and I choose the courses I like best. I don’t however intend to give up Latin and Greek entirely. Perhaps I shall take up these studies later; but I’ve said goodbye to Mathematics forever, and I assure you, I was delighted to see the last of those horrid goblins! I hope to obtain my degree in four years; but I’m not very particular about that. There’s no great hurry, and I want to get as much as possible out of my studies. Many of my friends would be well pleased if I would take two or even one course a year, but I rather object to spending the rest of my life in college….

TO MR. WILLIAM WADE
14 Coolidge Avenue, Cambridge,
December 9, 1900.
…Since you are so much interested in the deaf and blind, I will begin by telling you of several cases I have come across lately. Last October I heard of an unusually bright little girl in Texas. Her name is Ruby Rice, and she is thirteen years old, I think. She has never been taught; but they say she can sew and likes to help others in this sort of work. Her sense of smell is wonderful. Why, when she enters a store, she will go straight to the showcases, and she can also distinguish her own things. Her parents are very anxious indeed to find a teacher for her. They have also written to Mr. Hitz about her.

I also know a child at the Institution for the Deaf in Mississippi. Her name is Maud Scott, and she is six years old. Miss Watkins, the lady who has charge of her wrote me a most interesting letter. She said that Maud was born deaf and lost her sight when she was only three months old, and that when she went to the Institution a few weeks ago, she was quite helpless. She could not even walk and had very little use of her hands. When they tried to teach her to string beads, her little hands fell to her side. Evidently her sense of touch has not been developed, and as yet she can walk only when she holds some one’s hand; but she seems to be an exceedingly bright child. Miss Watkins adds that she is very pretty. I have written to her that when Maud learns to read, I shall have many stories to send her. The dear, sweet little girl, it makes my heart ache to think how utterly she is cut off from all that is good and desirable in life. But Miss Watkins seems to be just the kind of teacher she needs.

I was in New York not long ago and I saw Miss Rhoades, who told me that she had seen Katie McGirr. She said the poor young girl talked and acted exactly like a little child. Katie played with Miss Rhoades’s rings and took them away, saying with a merry laugh, “You shall not have them again!” She could only understand Miss Rhoades when she talked about the simplest things. The latter wished to send her some books; but she could not find anything simple enough for her! She said Katie was very sweet indeed, but sadly in need of proper instruction. I was much surprised to hear all this; for I judged from your letters that Katie was a very precocious girl….

A few days ago I met Tommy Stringer in the railroad station at Wrentham. He is a great, strong boy now, and he will soon need a man to take care of him; he is really too big for a lady to manage. He goes to the public school, I hear, and his progress is astonishing, they say; but it doesn’t show as yet in his conversation, which is limited to “Yes” and “No.”…

TO MR. CHARLES T. COPELAND
December 20, 1900.
My dear Mr. Copeland;
I venture to write to you because I am afraid that if I do not explain why I have stopped writing themes, you will think I have become discouraged, or perhaps that to escape criticism I have beat a cowardly retreat from your class. Please do not think either of these very unpleasant thoughts. I am not discouraged, nor am I afraid. I am confident that I could go on writing themes like those I have written, and I suppose I should get through the course with fairly good marks; but this sort of literary patch-work has lost all interest for me. I have never been satisfied with my work; but I never knew what my difficulty was until you pointed it out to me. When I came to your class last October, I was trying with all my might to be like everybody else, to forget as entirely as possible my limitations and peculiar environment. Now, however, I see the folly of attempting to hitch one’s wagon to a star with harness that does not belong to it.

I have always accepted other peoples experiences and observations as a matter of course. It never occurred to me that it might be worth while to make my own observations and describe the experiences peculiarly my own. Henceforth I am resolved to be myself, to live my own life and write my own thoughts when I have any. When I have written something that seems to be fresh and spontaneous and worthy of your criticisms, I will bring it to you, if I may, and if you think it good, I shall be happy; but if your verdict is unfavorable, I shall try again and yet again until I have succeeded in pleasing you…

TO MRS. LAURENCE HUTTON
14 Coolidge Avenue, Cambridge,
December 27, 1900.
…So you read about our class luncheon in the papers? How in the world do the papers find out everything, I wonder. I am sure no reporter was present. I had a splendid time; the toasts and speeches were great fun. I only spoke a few words, as I did not know I was expected to speak until a few minutes before I was called upon. I think I wrote you that I had been elected Vice-President of the Freshman Class of Radcliffe.

Did I tell you in my last letter that I had a new dress, a real party dress with low neck and short sleeves and quite a train? It is pale blue, trimmed with chiffon of the same color. I have worn it only once, but then I felt that Solomon in all his glory was not to be compared with me! Anyway, he certainly never had a dress like mine!…

A gentleman in Philadelphia has just written to my teacher about a deaf and blind child in Paris, whose parents are Poles. The mother is a physician and a brilliant woman, he says. This little boy could speak two or three languages before he lost his hearing through sickness, and he is now only about five years old. Poor little fellow, I wish I could do something for him; but he is so young, my teacher thinks it would be too bad to separate him from his mother. I have had a letter from Mrs. Thaw with regard to the possibility of doing something for these children. Dr. Bell thinks the present census will show that there are more than a thousand in the United States alone [The number of deaf-blind young enough to be benefited by education is not so large as this; but the education of this class of defectives has been neglected.]; and Mrs. Thaw thinks if all my friends were to unite their efforts, “it would be an easy matter to establish at the beginning of this new century a new line upon which mercy might travel,” and the rescue of these unfortunate children could be accomplished….

TO MR. WILLIAM WADE
Cambridge, February 2, 1901.
…By the way, have you any specimens of English braille especially printed for those who have lost their sight late in life or have fingers hardened by long toil, so that their touch is less sensitive than that of other blind people? I read an account of such a system in one of my English magazines, and I am anxious to know more about it. If it is as efficient as they say, I see no reason why English braille should not be adopted by the blind of all countries. Why, it is the print that can be most readily adapted to many different languages. Even Greek can be embossed in it, as you know. Then, too, it will be rendered still more efficient by the “interpointing system,” which will save an immense amount of space and paper. There is nothing more absurd, I think, than to have five or six different prints for the blind….

This letter was written in response to a tentative offer from the editor of The Great Round World to have the magazine published in raised type for the blind, if enough were willing to subscribe. It is evident that the blind should have a good magazine, not a special magazine for the blind, but one of our best monthlies, printed in embossed letters. The blind alone could not support it, but it would not take very much money to make up the additional expense.

To THE GREAT ROUND WORLD
Cambridge, Feb. 16, 1901.
The Great Round World,
New York City.
Gentlemen: I have only to-day found time to reply to your interesting letter. A little bird had already sung the good news in my ear; but it was doubly pleasant to have it straight from you.

It would be splendid to have The Great Round World printed in “language that can be felt.” I doubt if any one who enjoys the wondrous privilege of seeing can have any conception of the boon such a publication as you contemplate would be to the sightless. To be able to read for one’s self what is being willed, thought and done in the world–the world in whose joys and sorrows, failures and successes one feels the keenest interest–that would indeed be a happiness too deep for words. I trust that the effort of The Great Round World to bring light to those who sit in darkness will receive the encouragement and support it so richly deserves.

I doubt, however, if the number of subscribers to an embossed edition of The Great Round World would ever be large; for I am told that the blind as a class are poor. But why should not the friends of the blind assist The Great Round World, if necessary? Surely there are hearts and hands ever ready to make it possible for generous intentions to be wrought into noble deeds.

Wishing you godspeed in an undertaking that is very dear to my heart, I am, etc.

TO MISS NINA RHOADES
Cambridge, Sept. 25, 1901.
…We remained in Halifax until about the middle of August…. Day after day the Harbor, the warships, and the park kept us busy thinking and feeling and enjoying…. When the Indiana visited Halifax, we were invited to go on board, and she sent her own launch for us. I touched the immense cannon, read with my fingers several of the names of the Spanish ships that were captured at Santiago, and felt the places where she had been pierced with shells. The Indiana was the largest and finest ship in the Harbor, and we felt very proud of her.

After we left Halifax, we visited Dr. Bell at Cape Breton. He has a charming, romantic house on a mountain called Beinn Bhreagh, which overlooks the Bras d’Or Lake….

Dr. Bell told me many interesting things about his work. He had just constructed a boat that could be propelled by a kite with the wind in its favor, and one day he tried experiments to see if he could steer the kite against the wind. I was there and really helped him fly the kites. On one of them I noticed that the strings were of wire, and having had some experience in bead work, I said I thought they would break. Dr. Bell said “No!” with great confidence, and the kite was sent up. It began to pull and tug, and lo, the wires broke, and off went the great red dragon, and poor Dr. Bell stood looking forlornly after it. After that he asked me if the strings were all right and changed them at once when I answered in the negative. Altogether we had great fun….

TO DR. EDWARD EVERETT HALE [Read by Dr. Hale at the celebration of the centenary of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, at Tremont Temple, Boston, Nov. 11, 1901.]
Cambridge, Nov. 10, 1901.
My teacher and I expect to be present at the meeting tomorrow in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of Dr. Howe’s birth; but I very much doubt if we shall have an opportunity to speak with you; so I am writing now to tell you how delighted I am that you are to speak at the meeting, because I feel that you, better than any one I know will express the heartfelt gratitude of those who owe their education, their opportunities, their happiness to him who opened the eyes of the blind and gave the dumb lip language.

Sitting here in my study, surrounded by my books, enjoying the sweet and intimate companionship of the great and the wise, I am trying to realize what my life might have been, if Dr. Howe had failed in the great task God gave him to perform. If he had not taken upon himself the responsibility of Laura Bridgman’s education and led her out of the pit of Acheron back to her human inheritance, should I be a sophomore at Radcliffe College to-day–who can say? But it is idle to speculate about what might have been in connection with Dr. Howe’s great achievement.

I think only those who have escaped that death-in-life existence, from which Laura Bridgman was rescued, can realize how isolated, how shrouded in darkness, how cramped by its own impotence is a soul without thought or faith or hope. Words are powerless to describe the desolation of that prison-house, or the joy of the soul that is delivered out of its captivity. When we compare the needs and helplessness of the blind before Dr. Howe began his work, with their present usefulness and independence, we realize that great things have been done in our midst. What if physical conditions have built up high walls about us? Thanks to our friend and helper, our world lies upward; the length and breadth and sweep of the heavens are ours!

It is pleasant to think that Dr. Howe’s noble deeds will receive their due tribute of affection and gratitude, in the city, which was the scene of his great labors and splendid victories for humanity.

With kind greetings, in which my teacher joins me, I am Affectionately your friend,
HELEN KELLER.

TO THE HON. GEORGE FRISBIE HOAR
Cambridge, Mass., November 25, 1901. My Dear Senator Hoar:–
I am glad you liked my letter about Dr. Howe. It was written out of my heart, and perhaps that is why it met a sympathetic response in other hearts. I will ask Dr. Hale to lend me the letter, so that I can make a copy of it for you.

You see, I use a typewriter–it is my right hand man, so to speak. Without it I do not see how I could go to college. I write all my themes and examinations on it, even Greek. Indeed, it has only one drawback, and that probably is regarded as an advantage by the professors; it is that one’s mistakes may be detected at a glance; for there is no chance to hide them in illegible writing.

I know you will be amused when I tell you that I am deeply interested in politics. I like to have the papers read to me, and I try to understand the great questions of the day; but I am afraid my knowledge is very unstable; for I change my opinions with every new book I read. I used to think that when I studied Civil Government and Economics, all my difficulties and perplexities would blossom into beautiful certainties; but alas, I find that there are more tares than wheat in these fertile fields of knowledge….

Part III: A Supplementary Account of Helen Keller’s Life and Education

CHAPTER I. The Writing of the Book

It is fitting that Miss Keller’s “Story of My Life” should appear at this time. What is remarkable in her career is already accomplished, and whatever she may do in the future will be but a relatively slight addition to the success which distinguishes her now. That success has just been assured, for it is her work at Radcliffe during the last two years which has shown that she can carry her education as far as if she were studying under normal conditions. Whatever doubts Miss Keller herself may have had are now at rest.

Several passages of her autobiography, as it appeared in serial form, have been made the subject of a grave editorial in a Boston newspaper, in which the writer regretted Miss Keller’s apparent disillusionment in regard to the value of her college life. He quoted the passages in which she explains that college is not the “universal Athens” she had hoped to find, and cited the cases of other remarkable persons whose college life had proved disappointing. But it is to be remembered that Miss Keller has written many things in her autobiography for the fun of writing them, and the disillusion, which the writer of the editorial took seriously, is in great part humorous. Miss Keller does not suppose her views to be of great importance, and when she utters her opinions on important matters she takes it for granted that her reader will receive them as the opinions of a junior in college, not of one who writes with the wisdom of maturity. For instance, it surprised her that some people were annoyed at what she said about the Bible, and she was amused that they did not see, what was plain enough, that she had been obliged to read the whole Bible in a course in English literature, not as a religious duty put upon her by her teacher or her parents.

I ought to apologize to the reader and to Miss Keller for presuming to say what her subject matter is worth, but one more explanation is necessary. In her account of her early education Miss Keller is not giving a scientifically accurate record of her life, nor even of the important events. She cannot know in detail how she was taught, and her memory of her childhood is in some cases an idealized memory of what she has learned later from her teacher and others. She is less able to recall events of fifteen years ago than most of us are to recollect our childhood. That is why her teacher’s records may be found to differ in some particulars from Miss Keller’s account.

The way in which Miss Keller wrote her story shows, as nothing else can show, the difficulties she had to overcome. When we write, we can go back over our work, shuffle the pages, interline, rearrange, see how the paragraphs look in proof, and so construct the whole work before the eye, as an architect constructs his plans. When Miss Keller puts her work in typewritten form, she cannot refer to it again unless some one reads it to her by means of the manual alphabet.

This difficulty is in part obviated by the use of her braille machine, which makes a manuscript that she can read; but as her work must be put ultimately in typewritten form, and as a braille machine is somewhat cumbersome, she has got into the habit of writing directly on her typewriter. She depends so little on her braille manuscript, that, when she began to write her story more than a year ago and had put in braille a hundred pages of material and notes, she made the mistake of destroying these notes before she had finished her manuscript. Thus she composed much of her story on the typewriter, and in constructing it as a whole depended on her memory to guide her in putting together the detached episodes, which Miss Sullivan read over to her.

Last July, when she had finished under great pressure of work her final chapter, she set to work to rewrite the whole story. Her good friend, Mr. William Wade, had a complete braille copy made for her from the magazine proofs. Then for the first time she had her whole manuscript under her finger at once. She saw imperfections in the arrangement of paragraphs and the repetition of phrases. She saw, too, that her story properly fell into short chapters and redivided it.

Partly from temperament, partly from the conditions of her work, she has written rather a series of brilliant passages than a unified narrative; in point of fact, several paragraphs of her story are short themes written in her English courses, and the small unit sometimes shows its original limits.

In rewriting the story, Miss Keller made corrections on separate pages on her braille machine. Long corrections she wrote out on her typewriter, with catch-words to indicate where they belonged. Then she read from her braille copy the entire story, making corrections as she read, which were taken down on the manuscript that went to the printer. During this revision she discussed questions of subject matter and phrasing. She sat running her finger over the braille manuscript, stopping now and then to refer to the braille notes on which she had indicated her corrections, all the time reading aloud to verify the manuscript.

She listened to criticism just as any author listens to his friends or his editor. Miss Sullivan, who is an excellent critic, made suggestions at many points in the course of composition and revision. One newspaper suggested that Miss Keller had been led into writing the book and had been influenced to put certain things into it by zealous friends. As a matter of fact, most of the advice she has received and heeded has led to excisions rather than to additions. The book is Miss Keller’s and is final proof of her independent power.

CHAPTER II. PERSONALITY

Mark Twain has said that the two most interesting characters of the nineteenth century are Napoleon and Helen Keller. The admiration with which the world has regarded her is more than justified by what she has done. No one can tell any great truth about her which has not already been written, and all that I can do is to give a few more facts about Miss Keller’s work and add a little to what is known of her personality.

Miss Keller is tall and strongly built, and has always had good health. She seems to be more nervous than she really is, because she expresses more with her hands than do most English-speaking people. One reason for this habit of gesture is that her hands have been so long her instruments of communication that they have taken to themselves the quick shiftings of the eye, and express some of the things that we say in a glance. All deaf people naturally gesticulate. Indeed, at one time it was believed that the best way for them to communicate was through systematized gestures, the sign language invented by the Abbe de l’Epee.

When Miss Keller speaks, her face is animated and expresses all the modes of her thought–the expressions that make the features eloquent and give speech half its meaning. On the other hand she does not know another’s expression. When she is talking with an intimate friend, however, her hand goes quickly to her friend’s face to see, as she says, “the twist of the mouth.” In this way she is able to get the meaning of those half sentences which we complete unconsciously from the tone of the voice or the twinkle of the eye.

Her memory of people is remarkable. She remembers the grasp of fingers she has held before, all the characteristic tightening of the muscles that makes one person’s handshake different from that of another.

The trait most characteristic, perhaps, of Miss Keller (and also of Miss Sullivan) is humour. Skill in the use of words and her habit of playing with them make her ready with mots and epigrams.

Some one asked her if she liked to study.

“Yes,” she replied, “but I like to play also, and I feel sometimes as if I were a music box with all the play shut up inside me.”

When she met Dr. Furness, the Shakespearean scholar, he warned her not to let the college professors tell her too many assumed facts about the life of Shakespeare; all we know, he said, is that Shakespeare was baptized, married, and died.

“Well,” she replied, “he seems to have done all the essential things.”

Once a friend who was learning the manual alphabet kept making “g,” which is like the hand of a sign-post, for “h,” which is made with two fingers extended. Finally Miss Keller told him to “fire both barrels.”

Mr. Joseph Jefferson was once explaining to Miss Keller what the bumps on her head meant.

“That,” he said, “is your prize-fighting bump.”

“I never fight,” she replied, “except against difficulties.”

Miss Keller’s humour is that deeper kind of humour which is courage.

Thirteen years ago she made up her mind to learn to speak, and she gave her teacher no rest until she was allowed to take lessons, although wise people, even Miss Sullivan, the wisest of them all, regarded it as an experiment unlikely to succeed and almost sure to make her unhappy. It was this same perseverance that made her go to college. After she had passed her examinations and received her certificate of admission, she was advised by the Dean of Radcliffe and others not to go on. She accordingly delayed a year. But she was not satisfied until she had carried out her purpose and entered college.