Charlotte Rowett Tansey to Jane Addams, January 27, 1912


Nashville, Ark., Jan. 27, 1912.

My dear Miss Addams,

I have just laid down the February McClure, having [illegible] read to the middle of the third paragraph of "A New Conscience" -- It is impossible for one woman to make a declaration of adoration for another; and yet this is exactly what I am doing. It is absurd to make such a declaration on the typewriter, and yet for so many years I have made declarations of all sorts upon this that it is no more a machine but my hands to me. I think better thus, I even feel more acutely. And while it is partly feeling which leads me to write to you thus, it is founded upon an intellectual perception of what you are, of what you have done, of some kinship in that greatness which is you to something which a lack of continuity of purpose, a sort of [illegible] temperamental melancholy acceptance has kept from proper growth in me. Yet the droop of your own mouth shows some hint of melancholy which your power of soul has kept from being that of acceptance.

There are many women in the world today who are doing great things; and for them all I have a respect and a sort of impersonal affection. They are fighting my battles of course, and those of my beautiful daughter. Yes, and the big son's too for we stand and fall together. And I myself know enough and have had the courage of my faith in a square deal to a sufficient extent so that the son looks at other boys' sisters with clean eyes and understands why he must [illegible] do so in order to be a man. [page 2]

For them all I have respect and affection. But you, to me, have represented something holy and apart, yet active for good in the affairs of all the world. You do so still, and I am happy enough and selfish enough in the feeling to want to tell you about it. I can hear you saying the truths you place before us, in that quiet, impersonal, gray tone of yours which yet suggests all the primary colors of the passions of man; I can see you standing with your hands quietly together, a figure that seems small and unimportant for a moment, but that presently, as one listens, looms into that greatness of the mother of all the women as I have watched you sometimes.

There has never been told the story of the submerged girl with a tithe of the power, the comprehension, the dramatic appeal, that you are giving it, and certainly never with a sympathy so full of [illegible] knowledge. There is something in you -- a quiet, granite something -- that makes me feel like the Rock of Ages. It is greatness of course, the sort that makes a world-figure. We all know it. Yet it is not all world-figures which bring tears dripping all over a person's typewriter by the force of one's personal love for it.

This is quite all. It is a thing which calls for no reply and wants none. But once in a while some girl in my own business has been fond of me, and told me that she leaned on me and loved me and I was very glad and knew why I had done certain things instead of certain others, because I think one isn't allowed to spoil such confidence even unconsciously. So I thought, it being so with little me, it might even be so with you -- that maybe a heart full of love even [page 3] from one utterly unknown to you, might be pleasant to you. And just at this moment, reading that wonderfully plain, yet subtly effective introduction in the McClure, I simply had to tell you. For it is you yourself who fill full your paragraphs -- not some matter gleaned from long dead libraries by clever secretaries and woven thus into some cloth-of-imagination; but your own heart color staining through the fabric of intellectual comprehension.

Charlotte Rowett Tansey. [signed]