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The Cap And Gown
by [?]

The cap and gown are only an emphasis of the purpose to devote a certain period to the higher life, and if they cannot be defended, then we may begin to be skeptical about the seriousness of the intention of a higher education. If the school is merely a method of passing the time until a certain event in the girl’s life, she had better dress as if that event were the only one worth considering. But if she wishes to fit herself for the best married life, she may not disdain the help of the cap and gown in devoting herself to the highest culture. Of course education has its dangers, and the regalia of scholarship may increase them. While our cap-and-gown divinity is walking in the groves of Academia, apart from the ways of men, her sisters outside may be dancing and dressing into the affections of the marriageable men. But this is not the worst of it. The university girl may be educating herself out of sympathy with the ordinary possible husband. But this will carry its own cure. The educated girl will be so much more attractive in the long-run, will have so many more resources for making a life companionship agreeable, that she will be more and more in demand. And the young men, even those not expecting to take up a learned profession, will see the advantage of educating themselves up to the cap-and-gown level. We know that it is the office of the university to raise the standard of the college, and of the college to raise the standard of the high school. It will be the inevitable result that these young ladies, setting themselves apart for a period to the intellectual life, will raise the standard of the young men, and of married life generally. And there is nothing supercilious in the invitation of the cap-and-gown brigade to the young men to come up higher.

There is one humiliating objection made to the cap and gown-made by members of the gentle sex themselves–which cannot be passed by. It is of such a delicate nature, and involves such a disparagement of the sex in a vital point, that the Drawer hesitates to put it in words. It is said that the cap and gown will be used to cover untidiness, to conceal the makeshift of a disorderly and unsightly toilet. Undoubtedly the cap and gown are democratic, adopted probably to equalize the appearance of rich and poor in the same institution, where all are on an intellectual level. Perhaps the sex is not perfect; it may be that there are slovens (it is a brutal word) in that sex which is our poetic image of purity. But a neat and self-respecting girl will no more be slovenly under a scholastic gown than under any outward finery. If it is true that the sex would take cover in this way, and is liable to run down at the heel when it has a chance, then to the “examination” will have to be added a periodic “inspection,” such as the West-Pointers submit to in regard to their uniforms. For the real idea of the cap and gown is to encourage discipline, order, and neatness. We fancy that it is the mission of woman in this generation to show the world that the tendency of woman to an intellectual life is not, as it used to be said it was, to untidy habits.