Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The "Greatest Of These Is Charity"
by [?]

Mrs. James Gordon Harrington Balderston to Mrs. Lapham Shepherd


Will you pardon me for this base encroachment on your time? Busy women are the only ones who ever have any time, so the rest of the world is forced to steal from them. And then all that you organize is so successful that every one turns naturally to you for advice and assistance, as I am turning now. A really charming woman, a Miss Alexandrina Ramsay, who has lived for years in Italy, is anxious to give a series of lectures on Dante. I am sure they will be interesting, for she can put so much local colour into them, and I understand she is a fluent Italian scholar. Her uncle was the English Consul in Florence or Naples, I don’t remember which, so she has had unusual opportunities for study; and her grandfather was Dr. Alexander Ramsay, who wrote a history of the Hebrides. Unfortunately her voice is not very strong, so she would be heard to the best advantage in a drawing-room. I am wondering whether you would consent to lend yours, which is so beautiful, or whether you could put Miss Ramsay in touch with the Century Club, or the Spalding School. You will find her attractive, I am sure. The Penhursts knew her well in Munich, and have given her a letter to me.

Pray allow me to congratulate you on your new honours as a grandmother. I trust that both your daughter and the baby are well.

Very sincerely yours,

I forgot to tell you that Miss Ramsay’s lectures are on

Dante, the Lover.
Dante, the Poet.
Dante, the Patriot.
Dante, the Reformer.

There was a fifth on Dante, the Prophet, but I persuaded her to leave it out of the course.

I. B.

Mrs. Lapham Shepherd to Mrs. Wilfred Ward Hamilton


Mrs. James Balderston has asked me to do what I can for a Miss Alexandrina Ramsay (granddaughter of the historian), who wants to give four lectures on Dante in Philadelphia. She has chopped him up into poet, prophet, lover, etc. I cannot have any lectures or readings in my house this winter. Jane is still far from strong, and we shall probably go South after Christmas. Please don’t let me put any burden on your shoulders; but if Dr. Hamilton could persuade those nice Quakers at Swarthmore that there is nothing so educational as a course of Dante, it would be the best possible opening for Miss Ramsay. Mrs. Balderston seems to think her voice would not carry in a large room, but as students never listen to anybody, this would make very little difference. The Century Club has been suggested, but I fancy the classes there have been arranged for the season. There are preparatory schools, aren’t there, at Swarthmore, which need to know about Dante? Or would there be any chance at all at Miss Irington’s?

Miss Ramsay has been to see me, and I feel sorry for the girl. Her uncle was the English Consul at Milan, and the poor thing loved Italy (who doesn’t!), and hated to leave it. I wish she could establish herself as a lecturer, though there is nothing I detest more ardently than lectures.

I missed you sorely at the meeting of the Aubrey Home house-committee yesterday. Harriet Maline and Mrs. Percy Brown had a battle royal over the laying of the new water-pipes, and over my prostrate body, which still aches from the contest. I wish Harriet would resign. She is the only creature I have ever known, except the Bate’s parrot and my present cook, who is perpetually out of temper. If she were not my husband’s stepmother’s niece, I am sure I could stand up to her better.

Cordially yours,

Mrs. Wilfred Ward Hamilton to Miss Violet Wray