Woman's Progress/Volume 4/Number 5/Representative Women (Helen Bell)
HELEN BELL, THE FRIEND OF THE WORKING WOMAN.
"Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan."—Goethe.
Summer after summer unnumbered visitors resort to the Delaware Water Gap to enjoy the pure air and varied landscape—the forest-clad mountains and fertile river-bottoms, and the picturesque streams leaping from their sunny heights, and then flowing slowly through the valley into the calm Delaware.
Here an abundant flora greets the advent of spring, and makes summer fragrant with the white blossoms of the buckwheat that clings to the stony hill side, caressed by lively bees gathering a royal harvest of honey for their winter stores. A little later autumn assumes a dress of unusual brilliancy, contrasting finely with the unchanging evergreens till winter follows all enrobed in white, bringing leisure for family parties and all the blessedness of home and social life.
In one of the most charming valleys of Monroe county, where the clear water curves around the mountain base, was born a child, born to be a blessing not only to her parents, John and Antoinette Bell, but also to be a blessing to her generation.
Though she was taken to Philadelphia when her tiny feet had just begun to walk their ways of purity, and her baby tongue to utter words of endearment and admiration, again and again she returned to visit the delightful scenery around the Water Gap and the dear relatives who remained in their country homes.
Infancy and childhood came to her with most favorable surroundings. Of this happy child, watched over by the tender mother, guarded by the loving father, playing children's games under the shade trees, or in the little gardens that lined the unique semi-rural street wherein she dwelt, a portrait was painted by the gifted artist, Mrs. Darley, the daughter of the famed Sully. Mr. John Jordan, Jr., the child's maternal uncle, had the portrait of his beloved niece engraved and placed on the one and two dollar notes of the Manufacturers and Mechanics' Bank, of which he was then the President, and on these notes it remained until the bank became a National Bank, which necessitated their destruction. Strange prophecy of the future! Even as a child Helen Bell became the bearer of good tidings, gladdening the hearts of many a toiler as the bank notes passed from land to land and carried with them the smiling face of the guileless one.
School days followed—first with Miss Griffith; then, as the little maiden grew older, with Miss Mary Anna Longstreth, when she developed rapidly, studying with that persistent earnestness that makes success a certainty, and she easily held the headship of her classes in English, Latin and French."
One of her schoolmates and dearest friends thus writes: "She was devoted to books and literature, and while as a school girl she did not seem to devote much time to absolute study, her quickness of perception enabled her at a glance to glean as much from the pages of an allotted task as hours of study would bring to me; and she often rallied me on being too conscientious over my lessons, yet what she gained in this way was a permanent possession with her long after it had faded to indistinctness in the minds of other apparently closer and more thorough students. She had always a great love for things original, simple and different from the regular routine; and from beginning to end cared less about dress, except as it affected others, than almost anyone I ever knew."
"She was always constant in her attachments and friendships, never in the widening circle of later years losing sight of any of the friends of her girlhood—and, after any separation, long or short, meeting them with just the same loving interest in all that concerned them. She had the rare faculty of being the nearest and dearest to many without allowing herself to become absorbed even partially in any one of them to the exclusion of another."
"There was an unusually strong bond of understanding and sympathy between her and her mother, and with that mother's illness and death came a great awakening from a sort of dreamy listlessness that had possessed her largely, hitherto, to the practical realities of life. She soon after united in full membership with the Moravian Church and her character ripened rapidly. After her father's death, she developed as executor of her parents' estate that clear business ability which served her and others so well in after years. A most wonderful characteristic was her power of sympathizing with all kinds of people and with all ages. It was a gala day for the children when she came to stay with us—for each she had always some special remembrance; for the time being she was as much their friend as mine."
"From her earliest girlhood nothing refreshed her more than a bit of bohemianism, an innocent delight in the disregard of the convenances of society."
Another lifelong friend writes: "She was an attractive child, winning, loving and lovable with artless original ways that matured with her womanliness and seemed ever the secret of her attractiveness. From her father she inherited a love of nature which was strengthened in her long summer vacations near the Water Gap, where field walks or mountain scrambles, or excursions in the woods were ever a pleasure. Nothing escaped her notice. Many were the trophies gathered to be used in future study."
At this school she formed friendships that were never broken. On holidays these merry girls gathered in the freedom of country life, where in rural walks and wild adventure Helen lead on to fun and frolic, for her nature knew neither physical nor moral fear, and her independence and love of liberty felt no veneration for Mrs. Grundy.
Whilst showing due reverence to age and position, she clearly recognized the true value of each individual, and must have known herself the peer of the best men and women whom she met in social life.
Absent from the city on one occasion for a few days, she returned saying gleefully: "For the first time in my life I have been severely patronized." To these patronizing strangers she had given no sign save the sign of her perfect graciousness, but had concealed with difficulty the sense of amusement until she could report this new experience to her friends at home.
Not only in academic studies did she excel. Mrs. Longstreth's pupils were instructed in the art of sewing. A folding book wherein is displayed the excellent skill of the needle-woman is still preserved. The miniature samples set forth the mysteries of button holes, hem stitch, linen marking, exquisite darning and the plain stitches used in daily life.
School days ended. At home, the young scholar found leisure and opportunity to gratify her desire for knowledge. General society could not draw the omnivorous reader from the companionship of historians and philosophers, of poets and novelists. She led an ideal life, as though she walked with them through flowery fields and by the music of rippling waters.
Half-unconsciously she was laying a broad and fine foundation on which to build. During this blissful season of preparation, perhaps, no one would have been so much surprised as herself at the prophetic vision of the beautiful structure she was about to build on that foundation.
The secluded student was to become a leader; habits of life would undergo a radical change; contemplation would yield to action; receiving to dispensing; the retiring maiden would be well known to admiring thousands of men and women as President and Secretary of two of the largest organizations in Philadelphia whose duties would engross during many years her time and energies.
But when from that home the gentle Moravian mother passed away; when the intelligent father, of Friendly descent, who had turned to his children for solace, was also called to the life beyond; the parentless home seemed desolate. At the sundering of these ties there came as never before to Helen Bell a consciousness of personal responsibility. The days of mourning were days of meditation on the uses of life. The enjoyment of a literary life could not satisfy the social cravings of her nature. The loving services given to her parents were ended. She would give freely her services to many now unknown to her, who were hungering for human companionship and sympathy.
The days of leisure had been well employed—the time of preparation wisely ordered. Now, the world was all before her, where and what to choose. Helen Bell was undergoing a transformation, and anxiously this transformation seemed to correspond to the material change in her outer surroundings. Her childhood, her play days, her memories of father and mother were closely associated with the beautiful street also undergoing transformation.
One by one the shade trees decayed and died; the graceful vines were torn down; the flowers perished; the grass plots were neglected; the genial society disappeared as family after family moved away, till at length homes gave way to business, the rolling of pleasure carriages to the din of drays and express wagons.
During this process of transformation, several important social movements had their origin in Girard street.
"Doe the nexte thinge." That next thing met her face to face at her very door.
First came the New Century Club and fixed its headquarters at 1112 Girard street. In 1881 a committee of that club inaugurated a system of supplementary education, known as "The Committee on Evening Classes," for the instruction of girls who were engaged during the day in industrial occupations. Pupils flocked to 1112, for whom volunteer teachers were needed; one who would give instruction in the German language. Into this labor of love Helen Bell entered and taught the History of German Literature, until a fatal illness removed the accomplished teacher.
Besides those seeking instruction in evening classes, the chairman of the committee, the devoted Mrs. Eliza S. Turner, suggested that many girls might find benefit in meeting together for conference, for recreation, for social enjoyment, for mutual improvement, and also for the encouragement of the less thoughtful and less experienced, who needed the counsel and sympathy of wiser and stronger sisters.
Hence arose, small in its beginnings, the now influential Guild of Working Women, in whose service Helen Bell found ample room and scope enough for her active philanthropy. As a teacher she was eligible to membership and was duly elected. It was a privilege to observe the means whereby Helen Bell gradually won the confidence of her fellow members and shed a benign and blessed influence over these early small assemblies.
The girls, slightly or not at all acquainted with each other, timid in expressing their wishes or even in asking questions as to the possibilities or advantages of the Guild, would have been repelled by the slightest appearance of a patronizing spirit or discouraged by any prominence of superior attainment. The former Helen Bell could not manifest; any consciousness of superiority was held cautiously under—all covered up in the woman heart of sympathetic companionship and co-operation in promoting the work of the Guild.
In the discussions that gradually became general, she was intensely practical, putting as a question for consideration the very suggestion the girls needed, and then offering personal aid in a manner so gracious that no one need refuse.
Insight into character was blended with the desire to discover the best in each member—to throw into the background mistakes and errors in speech or thought—to place on the foreground the good and the useful.
Truly the kingdom of heaven was in her, the spirit of the young Nazarene as set forth in the old legend. One day He approached a little group, who were rudely kicking and cursing the unclean animal, who lay dead before them. The young Nazarene gazed upon the dog. A look of admiration spread over His face to the astonishment of the standers-by. Pointing to the open mouth of the dog, He exclaimed: "Were ever pearls so beautiful as these teeth?" and so passed on His way.
A gracious courtesy may have been in part the gift of nature, but by her own assertion it was mainly the result of cultivation. Early in life she had observed the beauty of gracious words and manner, and determined to acquire and practice as a social duty the habit of courtesy. Surely success crowned the effort and made her the perfect gentlewoman.
The devoted Guild mother, Mrs. Eliza S. Turner, recognized in its very infancy the valuable aid of Helen Bell. The Guild from 1881 to 1895 constantly grew in strength and numbers; as constantly grew Helen Bell's efforts for its welfare, in the department of evening classes, of building fund, of which she was treasurer, of housekeeping, of lectures, of library and reading-room, of mid-day rest and of social enjoyments.
The half holiday recreations were her special care. On Saturdays she conducted excursions—to the Wissahickon, to Bartram's Garden, to lawn parties at Mr. Wanamaker's, at Rosemont, at Boscobel, at the Burd Asylum grounds, visits to the old Johnson mansion and lawn of venerable trees at Germantown; to other colonial houses of the neighborhood. Then there were city walks to places of historic interest: to the Elm Treaty Ground, to Carpenters' Hall, Franklin's grave, the Ross Flag House, to the old Christ Church, to picture galleries, to the University Tea, and the inspection of the museums.
This versatile woman had an unusual talent for imparting knowledge, as is shown by the remarkable progress of her class in German language and literature. During several years for their sake she declined all invitations for that evening of the week when the class met at the Guild.
A permanent home now became the need of the Guild, and with the financial aid of a few members of the New Century Club a property was purchased in the centre of the city. In 1893, "The New Century Trust" was incorporated, legally empowered to receive and hold property and to use it in the interest of self-supporting girls and women, as designated by the charter. A Board of nine Trustees was appointed, of which Helen Bell was elected Secretary. The duties of this office, as those connected with the Executive Board of the Guild, she faithfully performed.
She was also treasurer of the Building Fund, for among her multifarious accomplishments was a knowledge of financial affairs. The two houses purchased are now the home of the Guild, but the Secretary hoped to see built hall and library, gymnasium and rest rooms, adapted to the ever-growing Guild. For this she labored—for this she endeavored to gain friends who would come with loving hearts and financial aid. She has been taken from works to reward, but among the many who have been blessed with her friendship surely the work for which she hoped shall find favor and she shall be substantially remembered in their sympathy with the Guild and her labors, of which this sketch presents only a faint outline.
The following tribute is recorded on the minutes of the Executive Board of the Guild of Working Women:
"In the last (March, 1895) issue of our Guild paper are tributes to the memory of Helen Bell, as member of Guild, as teacher of the German class and as one of the Executive Board. It for us to do. How, while she was chairman of the Building Fund, the money seemed to come in as if by magic! How human was her interest in the evening classes, as shown by the cheery and interesting reports she brought us! How unobtrusively she went about the house, quietly looking after its wants!fitting that we who have been associated with her for so many years in the latter capacity, at this our first meeting when we must say she is no longer one of us, should look back at our relations with her during that time; although the retrospect must overwhelm us with a keener sense of our loss, although it be as when members of a family look blankly into each other's faces saying: 'What shall we do without her?' In looking over our published records, the journal and our annual reports, her name does not appear very often, but our minutes will show how constant has been her attendance and how faithful her work. Yet only in our hearts and in our memories can be the knowledge of the strength she has been to us, of the joyous earnestness with which she has performed her different duties on the Board, and of the modest way in which when we were perplexed she would suggest just the right thing
"Not as though she were doing an important work has she been among us, but 'as a sweet presence of a good diffused,' and all the while, although her face was 'bright with something of angelic light,' we entertained her as if she would always be one of us."
Again, at her very doors, 1112 Girard street, originated another association whose membership now equals in numbers that of the Guild. A few members of the New Century Club met certain afternoons in the club parlor under the leadership of Miss Bennett, now of Ogontz, for the purpose of studying the poetical works of Robert Browning. Owing to many duties as principal of Ogontz, Miss Bennett resigned the leadership and was succeeded by Miss Mary Cohen.
The informal, conversational discussions of this little class attracted Helen Bell, and after a few years the Browning Society with its greatly increased membership held evening meetings at the club rooms, 1520 Chestnut street, and Helen Bell took a large and discriminating interest in the readings, discussions, and arrangement of the programs. Her reading of Browning's poems was very beautiful, and her clear voice and sympathetic rendering of them added much to the enjoyment of the members. In 1891, she was elected President, and fulfilled the duties of that office during four years, with remarkable tact, justice, grace and dignity. Of the crowds who came from all parts of the city to find pleasure and profit in the Browning Society meetings, no one enjoyed the society of literary men and women, no one had finer appreciation of the beautiful than the presiding officer. Nevertheless what she sought was the improvement and progress of the society far more than her own enjoyment. In the papers read at the In Memoriam, the Browning Society have beautifully expressed their mourning for their loss, and their appreciation of her valued services.
Fond of the study of languages, she commenced with Latin and French at Miss Longstreth's, which, with German, were pursued to the end of her days. During two winters the Hebrew language was studied at the University of Pennsylvania. Most freely were they used for others. At Bethany, the French was used in instructing a Bible class of French girls—and the German was mainly for the beloved German class.
Having found a friend, who like herself was seeking a companion in unraveling the mysteries of the masterpiece of German Literature, the second part of Faust, she received and gave unspeakable pleasure during the winter evenings of two winters devoted to Goethe.
Of the Fortnightly, a literary club of twenty-five, meeting at private houses of the members, she was a beloved member, always bringing some valued contribution from her ample store house and inspiration to the meeting.
As in literature so in art, beauty appealed to her. In her dainty painting on china, the touch is fine, the execution delicate. Nature, too, offered its charms, and therefore she loved and enjoyed travel at home and abroad. Her charity also was wide and catholic, including all kinds and conditions of men. No religious cant soiled her pure lips, but she loved the simple rites and hopeful faith of the church of her ancestors, the church known throughout Christendom for its missionary labors, its peaceful spirit, its quiet and unobtrusive piety. To the Moravian, after this earthly life, comes sleep—the green sod and the leafy trees adorn the resting place, from which the sleeper rises refreshed. Each Easter morn is welcomed with music by the living in joyous memory of those who have awakened into heavenly life. What could be more in keeping with her nature than this child-like faith?
Much time she had spent in quiet Nazareth, the home of many Moravian relatives. At Nazareth her uncle, Mr. Jordan, purchased for the home of aged and disabled missionaries of the Moravian Church a large house with lawn, but could not purchase a small house with some ground attached, because the owners were unwilling to sell. After the uncle's death Helen Bell found an opportunity of purchasing the desired property, and so complete the gift of Mr. Jordan, known as "The Ephrata Estate." She reserved a life interest—how short it proved!—in this part she purchased, and made the deed to the Moravian Society, thus manifesting affectionate regard for her uncle, and the missionary spirit which carried the love of Christ to all peoples. Such was the religion learned from her mother.
If happiness comes unsought to those who use their talents for the enriching of their fellow-beings, happiness sought her and possessed her. Her face told the story.
She was happy in doing what she loved to do; happy because success crowned her efforts in literature, in social life, in philanthropy; happy because she was appreciated by young and old; by men and women; by rich and poor; by learned and ignorant.
And why was she so beloved? The charm was not because of unusual attainments; not in what she said; not even in what she did. There was something more than attainment, or speech, or action. There was the attractive personality; the genial benignity; the generous appreciation; the contagious keenness of enjoyment; the child spirit of the happy now; the absence of anxiety for the future. There was a perpetual youth whose present moment is ever the fullest of life. Therefore, her coming was a joy; her leaving ever a sadness.
To women born and bred in the leisure class, she ought to be a stimulus to holy living; to the selfishly indolent, the victims of ennui and misanthropy, a perpetual rebuke.
Many there be who live to old age, but few accomplish so much as did this energetic devoted woman. Her going away was happy, for she left this busy world without one sign of decay in mind or body. The work appointed was finished. The pulse ceased its beating and life stood still. The eyes closed in sleep, but in immortal youth she lives a fuller life and still calls, to those that have ears to hear, from the unseen world. Brother! Come up higher! Sister! Come up higher!
C. A. Burgin.
A WORD OF HELEN BELL.
In this little paper it is not my intention to speak of our president's work in the Browning Society or elsewhere, but very simply and briefly give one woman's impressions of another in some of the more open relations of life, premising with a few verses which Lowell might have written expressly for Helen Bell.
"Not as all other women are
Is she that to my soul is dear;
Her glorious fancies come from far,
Beneath the silver evening star,
And yet her heart is ever near.
Great feelings hath she of her own,
Which lesser souls may never know;
God giveth them to her alone,
And sweet they are as any tone
Wherewith the wind may choose to blow.
Yet in herself she dwelleth not,
Although no home were half so fair;
No simplest duty is forgot,
Life hath no dim and lowly spot
That doth not in her sunshine share.
She doeth little kindnesses,
Which most leave undone or despise;
For naught that sets one heart at ease,
And giveth happiness or peace,
Is low-esteemed in her eyes.
She hath no scorn of common things,
And, though she seem of other birth,
Round us her heart entwines and clings,
And patiently she folds her wings
To tread the humble paths of earth.
Blessing she is: God made her so,
And deeds of week-day holiness
Fall from her noiseless as the snow,
Nor has she ever chanced to know
That aught were easier than to bless.
She is most fair, and thereunto
Her life doth rightly harmonize;
Feeling or thought that was not true
Ne'er made less beautiful the blue
Unclouded heaven of her eyes."
If it were necessary for me to decide for myself what was the one great thing Helen Bell did in her short and vivid life I should say "She made herself necessary." And this was not because of what she did, although she did so much; nor because of what she knew, although she knew much more than her modest manner revealed; nor because she was fair and gracious and charitable and untiring, but simply because she was—herself. We cannot take such a character as hers into parts and say this was the best and this was of less value, because it all goes together. Her sweetness, her strength, her little fancies, her weakness, her radiance all made up her personality—her sympathetic individual character. And here it seems to me we touch the lesson, the power of her life—the value of character! This is an old and trite thing to say, but the preponderance of character in our every-day estimate of the importance of a life is not so very common. We are much more apt to count up the social or business value of the individual than to realize what the simple presence of a pure and lovely life means to all who live within its influence. But this is really what Nature works out for us—the great Fate that no one can escape—"As a man lives so shall he be." The days going by leave their record in character—and this is our Book of Doom! It is not aspiration nor repentance we need, but the right endeavor, because it is the every-day service, the unconscious life that sweetens or spoils the soul. And it was thus, day by day, Helen Bell lived with pure, high thoughts, with patient striving, with active, unwearying application, always bent upon what was right, and so deepened and developed, until unknown to herself, half-guessed by others, she became that important factor, the one who is necessary! Her natural sincerity and nobility gave her stability and a personal power that centered her and her deep seriousness made her take even the little events of every day at an unusual valuation. She never despised another's opinion, or failed to consider the rights of those whose judgments she could not accept. She had her little diplomacies and liked to have difficult affairs given to her to manage, and one can almost see her saying: "I am sure if it is left to me I can make it right," but it was the diplomacy of the charity that believes that antagonism means nothing more than miscomprehension and that it is only necessary to explain if you would convince.
And when I think of Miss Bell I feel the value of that fine old Anglo-Saxon title—the Lady! Not merely the gentlewoman, but the dispenser of the sweet, every-day charities, the Lady who assumes her proper relation with all who are dependent; the St. Elizabeth in whose apron the loaves will turn to roses should there be greater need of flowers than of bread; the lady around whom knights rally, proud to wear her colors;—the mistress of her castle and of the hearts of all who are glad and proud to know they shared the life, and had part in the work that occupied and interested Helen Bell!
"A star has set, a star hath risen."
We cannot fail to believe that the light which shone upon so many with clear and comforting radiance is already shining for joy and blessing, somewhere, in those illimitable spaces which we call Heaven.
Some lives are sent down to this dear old world of ours, which seem to bind us not only to themselves but to it by the force and intensity of their very humaneness, their appreciation and delight in its beauty and its joy, while by the expansion of their higher and spiritual powers, their abnegation, their aspirations and their devotion, they make fast for us a link in the chain that draws us toward the unseen and the eternal.
Such a nature was Helen Bell's, rejoicing, as she did, in all the fairest things of earth, in nature, in art and literature, from the sunset cloud, the mountain peak, and the stars of night to the commonest flower that fringes the dusty highway. Enjoying all that is good in art and in literature, choosing with unerring instinct the best in all, she made these treasures her own in the truest sense of possession, the ownership of understanding and appreciation, always realizing that each endowment and each acquisition was a sacred trust which she held for others, something to be used for the world's brightening and uplifting.
Subscribing with almost childlike simplicity to the evangelical faith of the Church of her fathers, the Moravian Church, treasuring with jealous affection the memorials of its heroic past, and aiding in its works of present usefulness, her attitude towards other religious bodies, Jewish and Christian, was broadly Catholic, a brotherhood of faith seeming to be an integral part of a character whose leading impulse was the brotherhood of man. Those who believe in heredity can trace some of Helen Bell's noblest traits, her self-forgetfulness, her public spirit, her restrained enthusiasm and her fine balance of character to an ancestry, Quaker and Moravian, including men and women who were distinguished, in their day and generation for their steadfast endurance, their simplicity of life and their integrity of purpose. Among her far back ancestors were that John and Barbara Bevan, who, when they emigrated from their native Wales, were counted "Pillars to the Meeting," according to the ancient record, and who relinquished a considerable estate because "the precious truth was much in their eyes, and this alone moved their hearts and wrought upon their spirits in order to their removal hence." An ancestress, of whom Helen Bell was justly proud was Ann Henry, who for twelve years during the difficult and unsettled times subsequent to the war of the Revolution, held with honor the position of Treasurer of Lancaster, having succeeded her husband, William Henry, in that office. From this capable and executive woman, the president of the Browning Society may have derived much of her admirable business and administrative ability.
To no one were the dear delights of companionship dearer than to Helen Bell, and while entering with keen enjoyment into the flash of wit and play of fancy, the good natured give-and-take of badinage, or the more subtle intricacies of argument and discussion which all go to make up that supreme delight of life, which we name conversation, she was ever ready to enter with interest into the most commonplace talk about every day affairs—the trials of a housekeeper or the sorrows of a shop girl. Nothing seemed too trifling or too insignificant to awake her interest or draw forth her sympathy. While admitting into the close bonds of friendship certain chosen ones, whom she loved with a tender and utterly unselfish devotion, she entertained a strong liking for a large circle of acquaintance and felt a warm sympathy and interest in "all sorts and conditions of men." Even in the most commonplace and ordinary mortal whom many of us would call dull and pass over without another thought, she through some heaven-born instinct of comradeship, some generous feeling of the kinship of humanity, would find something to interest her, some meeting place of thought through which she could enter into his or her pursuits and pleasures. So well was this characteristic understood that when Helen Bell said at the close of an evening to a friend and hostess, "That was a rather dull person to whom you introduced me," the friend replied, surprised at such a remark from her, "Why that was the reason I introduced her to you. I knew that you could talk to any one. She seemed to be having a pretty poor time and I knew that you could make the evening pleasant to her."
Mrs. Hallowell, in her beautiful remembrances of Helen Bell, in the Philadelphia Ledger, has spoken with exquisite appreciation of her work in the New Century Guild and in her German class. Of the delights of the Saturday walks, I can speak with enthusiasm having taken part in many of them and entering with her into the desire to arouse in these young women an interest in the historic spots so dear to her, Carpenters' Hall, the Hall of Independence, old Christ Church, the burial place of Franklin, or old St. Joseph's where she was quite sure the constant lovers, Gabriel and Evangeline lie buried. Often have we wandered with her through the crowded streets of the lower part of the city to find the Blue Anchor Tavern, or to trace the winding course of Dock Creek, and to wonder where Society Hill began and where it ended, or where the old jail stood on the High street, or try to fancy how the streets looked when they were trodden by sweet-faced Quakeresses or gayer daughters of the Church of England. Dearly as she loved this old Philadelphia with its historic and picturesque associations, which she absorbed in early years under the guidance of her devoted uncle, Mr. John Jordan, for years an honored leader in all historic work in Pennsylvania, she was earnest and unflagging in her efforts and desires for that newer and better Philadelphia, the city of our hopes and of our dreams. All centres of education and light she considered as important forces toward the bringing about of a just and righteous administration of affairs, and added sources of benefit and enjoyment for the people. The Browning Society, she deemed not simply a meeting place for an hour's enjoyment or the exchange of thought and opinion upon literary subjects; but as an important and elevating influence, a spiritual factor in a material and prosaic age. This idea she expressed more than once from this platform, on those rare occasions, at the opening and closing of the session's study, when she gave us a few words from herself. Usually, as we all know, the president of the Browning Society occupied that ideal attitude of the presiding officer, holding evenly the balance nicely poised, showing, by no hair's breadth of inclination to one side or the other, by no flash of expression upon her most expressive face, with which side of the vexed question she was disposed to agree.
Of Helen Bell, as president of the Browning Society others will speak, dwelling upon the generous culture, the richly stored mind the well balanced judgment and administrative ability that have enriched and guided our society during the years of its broadest development. Although deeply appreciating, and having enjoyed to the fullest extent these benefits, I like better to linger over those intimate personal traits—those qualities of heart and spirit that conspired to make up a character of unusual strength and sweetness, the subtle underlying traits, which make us what we are. It was a fine combination of many noble and womanly qualities, united to an almost childlike frankness and simplicity of character that made Helen Bell's lovely and engaging personality an inspiration and a joy wherever she appeared, which spread a homelike warmth and cheer about her, and caused her sweet face like Una's, "to make sunshine in many a shady place of earth."
Anne Hollingsworth Wharton.
HELEN BELL'S WORK IN THE N. C. GUILD FOR WORKING WOMEN.
The feeling which overshadows all our hearts at this time is the loss of our beloved director, teacher and fellow-member, Helen Bell. She has been so constantly with us and a part of us from the first inception of the Guild, that we almost grew to accept her as something we had a right to, like our air and sunshine; but now we realize that it was a gift which could be taken away. Now one and another recalls what she was in her class-room, how she was the life of the summer walks and little country journeys, how she had been a strengthening influence in this young life, and an awakening light in that; how, as one girl said, she never came near you but she brought a pleasantness in some little way; and now as we elders begin to remember, she was habitually bringing a new friend to take an interest, or an invitation to an afternoon at some country house, or the entree to some place of historical interest; or it was tickets to some musical entertainment, or a piece of her own china-painting for our dining room, or a timely contribution for something we wanted very much, and knew we could not afford; how, in short, she was not an outside friend, but one of us, as she had the faculty of being one of many other circles, diverse from ours and from each other. And now we and many others are saying, "How can we do without her?" One thing, at least, we shall always have with us: the memory of a fresh, original, forceful, sweet and noble character, and the feeling that everyone who came within her influence is the better that she lived.
From N. C. Guild Report.
Eliza S. Turner.
HELEN BELL. FEBRUARY 11, 1895.
Death wished to borrow something of thy grace;
And now that thou art lying 'neath the snow,
The grave that holds thee seems a favored place,
Where one might willing go.
But life is not so rich in things divine,
That it would part with such a soul as thine!
A voice of comfort breathes from sorrowing Earth
If winter is the nursery of flowers,
If purity and loveliness have worth
Beyond this world of ours,
If there is pity for the tears we shed,
If any truly live—thou art not dead!