The Normal College of New York City, continued
prettily with the allegretto movement of the music. They were formed in single file, and stringed in with measured pace, silent and demure — girls all the way from fourteen to twenty years of age, from the farther edge of childhood to the farther limit of maidenhood; girls with every shade of complexion and decree of beauty; girls in such variety that it was amazing to contemplate the reduction of their individuality to the simple uniformity of their well-drilled movements. We looked for the last of them; the seats in the body were fast filling, without the least noise or confusion; but the lady at the piano was still beating out the allegretto air, and we could see the long hues threading in through the great corridor, and hear the steady rain of footsteps. The clock in front of the gallery marked nine, and the body of the hall was now filled, but the stream continued to pour into the gallery, until nearly every seat was occupied; and at four minutes past nine the last of the procession had entered, the doors were closed, and the piano became silent. What a triumph of system! The first thing to excite our wonder and admiration was the number
— there were 1542 pupils; the second thing was the earnestness of the discipline; and the third was the suggestiveness of so many girls at work in assembly, with their own education as the primary aim, and the education of countless thousands of others as the final aim, of their toil. The latter was fascinating, and inclined ns to reverie, opening long vistas of stirring possibilities, the evils counteracted by intelligence, and the happiness evoked by enlightenment. But despite its mellow atmosphere and ecclesiastical architecture, the chapel is not the place for dreams, its uses exacting intense application, and leaving no time for vagrant thoughts. When the doors had been closed, amid the last footfall had died away, the pianist struck one note, and the girls, who had been standing, erect and silent, before their seats with the faces directed to the platform, turned half round; another note was struck, in response to which they unfolded the seats and upon hearing the third, they sat down in a body, not one being the tenth of a second later than the others. If, instead of being self-willed, independent, audacious American girls, they had been automata simultaneously controlled by a rush of electricity, the unanimity of their movements could not have been more perfect; and with our admiration came the thought of the invaluable lessons their future husbands might learn from a philosophical study of normal school government. The inmates of a convent, with their burden of silent bitterness, could not possibly be more decorous and systematic than these untrammelled maids of the new era were, who at once vindicated their sex and set at naught the critics of young Americans.
The students being seated, a chapter of the Bible was read by Mr. William Wood, president of the Board of Education — a venerable gentleman, whose name is identified with one of the historic banking houses of the metropolis (this duty being done by Mr. Thomas Hunter, president of the college, in the absence of Mr. Wood) - and a non-sectarian hymn was sung to the accompaniment of the organ. A pause followed, and we instinctively became aware that mingled expectation and hesitation were rife in the assemblage. It was time for quotations.
The Main Entrance of the New York Normal College.