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I have been asked by the publishers of this Autobiography to write the Introduction. I am very glad to be asked. There is no woman in the world whose book I would rather introduce than that of my friend and co-worker, Frances E. Willard. From the first hour of my acquaintance with her, now more than sixteen years ago, she has been to me the embodiment of all that is lovely, and good, and womanly, and strong, and noble and tender, in human nature. She has been my queen among women, and I have felt it to be one of the greatest privileges of my life to call her my friend. I have been inspired by her genius, I have been cheered by her sympathy, I have been taught by her wisdom, I have been led onward and upward by her enthusiastic faith. We have met on almost every point of human interest, and have been together in joy and in sorrow, in success and in apparent failure ; she has been a member of my household for weeks together, and I have seen her tried by prosperity and flattery, by misunderstanding and evil report ; and always and everywhere she has been the same simple-hearted, fair-minded Christian woman, whose one sole aim has been to do the will of God as far as she knew it, and to bear whatever of apparent ill He may have permitted to come upon her, with cheerful submission, as being His loving discipline for the purpose of making her what, above all, she longs to be, a partaker of His holiness.
In regard to her public work she has seemed to me one of God's best gifts to the American women of the nineteenth century, for she has done more to enlarge our sympathies, widen our outlook, and develop our gifts, than any man, or any other woman of her time. Every movement for the uplifting of humanity has found in her a cordial friend and active helper. Every field of inquiry or investigation has shared in her quick, intelligent sympathy, and she has been essentially American in this, that she is always receptive of new ideas, without being frightened at
their newness. One saying of hers is eminently characteristic that we have no more need to be afraid of the step just ahead of us than we have to be afraid of the one just behind us; and, acting on this, she has always given all new suggestions a candid and fair-minded consideration, and has kept in the forefront of every right movement, whether in the world of ideas or the world of things. I have called her to myself, many times, our “see-er,” because, like all seers, she seems to have an insight into things not visible to the eyes of most. We who know her best have so much confidence, born of experience, in these insights of hers, that I am not sure but that something once said about us laughingly is, after all, pretty nearly the truth : that "if Frances Willard should push a plank out into the ocean, and should beckon the white ribbon women to follow her out to the end of it, they would all go without a question.” The reason is that we have discovered that her planks always turn out to be bridges across to delectable islands which she has discerned while yet they were invisible to us.
How such a woman came to be, is told us in this book, and it is a story that will, I believe, be an example and an inspiration to thousands of her fellow-women, who will learn here the vast possibilities of a pure and holy womanhood, consecrated to God and to the service of humanity.
How this story came to be told is as follows: As president for nearly ten years of the great organization called the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, numbering more than two hundred thousand women, scattered all over the United States, from Maine to Texas, and from Florida to Alaska, Frances E. Willard has won a love and loyalty that no other woman, I think, has ever before possessed. It was natural that the many members of this widespread organization, who could not see their leader, should desire to read the story of her life, and for some time she has been besieged with requests to write her own biography. At the annual W. C. T. U. Convention held in Nashville, Tenn., in 1887, these desires voiced themselves in the following resolution, unanimously adopted by the whole convention :
Resolved, That in view of the fact that the year 1889 will be the fifteenth of the organization of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and also that in the same year our beloved president, Miss Frances
E. Willard, enters upon the fiftieth year of her strong and beautiful life, we, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union delegates, in National Convention assembled, do request Miss Willard to prepare for publication an autobiography, together with the history of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union from its birth to 1889, with a collection of her addresses on various themes.
Miss Willard was at first averse to the plan, and put off yielding to it as long as possible. But the white ribbon women do not generally give up an idea when once originated, and since they had so often walked in unknown paths at her bidding, she felt herself, at last, bound to walk in this path at their bidding. Hence this book.
Furthermore, the women wanted a true story, not a story that, out of a conventional modesty, would tell only half the truth, in the fear of being thought egotistic and full of self. Their idea is admirably expressed in these words of Emerson, “Say honestly and simply that which your own experience has given you and you will give to the world something new, valuable and lasting." Having taken, for a rarity, the authority into their own hands, they have insisted upon having the work done in their own way, and have required their leader to tell them all about herself, her work, her life, the very inmost of her being, without fear or favor, because only thus could she give them what they desired.
Whoever reads this book, therefore, must remember that it has been written by request of and for the omen of whom Miss Willard is the well beloved leader, the white ribbon women of America ; if others see it, that is their own good fortune. is a home book, written for her great family circle, and to be read around the evening lamp by critics who love the writer, and who want to learn from her experience how to live better and stronger lives. It is a woman's book, warm, sympathetic, offhand; it is an object-lesson in American living and American development, and as such can not fail to interest all those who think American women worthy of a little study. It begins in the West of forty years ago, picturing a pioneer farm and the unique, out-of-door life of adventurous young Western boys and girls. It tells of a free-spirited mother, who sympathized with her children rather than governed them, and who, although she would have liked her daughter to learn house work, yet did not
force her into it, because she had the rare good sense to know that it was far better to help her child to do the best in her own line than to force her to do a half-best in any other line, and also because she believed every natural gift to be God-given and meant for divine uses in serving the world, and therefore worthy of respect and of development. We have in the story of this mother and daughter a glimpse into the relation between parents and children such as it ought always to be, not one of arbitrary control on the one hand and slavish submission on the other, but one of coöperation, or partnership, in which each should try to help the other to do and be their best, and should each realize the sacred duty of leaving one another free to follow, without hindrance, the path which they should feel called upon to pursue. It is no small thing to have laid open before us the methods of a grand and truly typical mother, one who had not the help of the usual environment, one who made herself her children's world. Were there more such mothers as Mrs. Willard, there would be more such daughters as hers.
The father in this story, while more reserved, and consequently less manifestly sympathetic than the mother, was a noble and gifted man, of sterling goodness, and great power in the lives of his children, to whom he was most devotedly attached. There is also a sweet young sister who brightened the family life for "nineteen beautiful years," and then left them for the home above, leaving with her latest breath a legacy of infinite value to her sister Frances in the simple words, “Tell everybody to be good.”
There is a brother, too; a young man of great promise, endowed with rare genius, and of a most lovable nature, who left the world before he had had time to do more than make a passing mark on the annals of his own day, leaving behind him, however, a gentle widow, whose life and work have been and still are of great value to her family and the work of the Lord.
The book contains a history of the Woman's Crusade against the liquor traffic in 1874, and of what we are accustomed to call “its sober second thought”-the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, that great organization which Mary A. Livermore says is “so grand in its aims, so superb in its equipment, so phenomenal in its growth, and has done so much for woman as well
as for temperance, that it challenges the attention of Christendom, and excites the hope of all who are interested in the welfare of humanity.”
Those who read between the lines of this book can not fail to see how largely the evolution of this mighty organization has been the work of its gentle, yet magnetic leader, whose wonderful administrative talent and superb tact, have given her an almost unparalleled success in controlling and guiding one of the greatest movements of modern times. Yet with all this success, Miss Willard is, I believe, truly humble minded. When calls come from every direction, and some seem to feel indignant, and others accuse her of one thing, and still others of another, and they fit her out with motives, knowing nothing whatever about the facts in the case, she writes after this fashion: “Am badgered to death and am not worried a hair-what do you make o' that? I fancy the explanation is that, unless I am an awfully deceived woman, I am desirous of doing God's will, and so the clamor on this footstool is like the humming of ''skeeters' outside the curtain. It rather lulls me into quiet.” No one could realize more deeply than she does the truth that, “Except the Lord build the city, they labor in vain that build it," and she has always sought to commit her work and her ways to the keeping of the Divine Master, in a simple, child-like faith that He would lead her in the way she should go, and would make all her paths straight before her. That this faith has been answered to a remarkable degree the book before us will clearly show.
The beautiful illustrations of the book are entirely the work of the Woman's Temperance Publication Association, which is bringing it out. Miss Willard would not have felt willing in her own name to send forth such personal pictures for the public gaze, but she was obliged to yield in this, as in all else concerning the book, to the wishes and judgment of the white ribbon women, who, for once, have got the upper-hand of their leader, and greatly enjoy making her do their bidding. The W. T. P. A. took the whole responsibility of the illustrations, and has prepared this part of the volume in an unusually original and artistic manner.
Altogether, we of the W. C. T. U. of the United States look upon this book as a most creditable witness to the value of our organization and to the successful working of the Woman's