Eulogy for Jessie Bross Lloyd, January 22, 1905

REEL 46_1306.jpg
REEL 46_1307.jpg

Address by Miss Jane Addams:

It seems impossible to add to what has been said by the various speakers. And it is moreover, always difficult to formulate a life such as Mrs. Lloyd's, and in a sense it is altogether impossible. In the first place we lack the words in which to express it, for we do not need the words for it very often. But that which she was constantly trying to do was that which makes for a wider and more satisfactory human relationship. She could not tolerate a merely conventional intercourse with any one, but she would find out what was best in each person whom she knew and she would establish a genuine relation upon that basis of real understanding- a course in itself so new that it is almost like an untried force in our social affairs.

A book has recently been issued from the University of Harvard written, of course, as all philosophy is sure to be, upon the evolutionary basis, in which the writer says in the concluding chapter, that the humanizing force at the present moment in our affairs, that which [page 2] is most actively making for progress, is this power of extending human relationships; and although this is true that it is in danger of permanent checks. It is so easy to allow our relationships to fall into pits of convention, to be satisfied when they are merely comfortable, rather than to push human progress along this line; there is also a constant temptation when we are pressed upon by the crowd, to draw into a certain seclusion so that our relationships cease to become enlarged, so that it requires a conscious effort to hold this humanizing process to its highest possibilities.

I am afraid I am repeating this so badly that the author himself would not recognize it as his, but after all, his underlying contention is, that that which makes a man human, which makes him so unlike his estate in the pre-human stage, has been this power of extending relations with other people. In his early stages man expressed only a few emotions, and then as he gained power of expression, he added more and more. It seems to me that Mrs. Lloyd, perhaps more than anyone I ever knew, insisted upon extending this power of human relationship, that she placed it upon a wider basis, gave it a deeper meaning than most people are able to attain. She made it a genuine force in human affairs. She became a source of energy quite beyond her personal relations. We may illustrate by Mrs. Henrotin's incident of "a charming crowd." One of us would instinctively have said "A dreadful crowd," and Mrs. Lloyd said "a charming crowd," because it was charming to her. She felt, possibly even as a young girl, this force that she possessed, this power which made for a larger life.

This ability was by no means impersonal. Her affection for her husband was something that appeared to many of us, almost august. It was so fine, it was so full, so unending, that it is something to be always remembered, to be put aside in one's recollection as that which many women might attain because it is within the broad [page 3] heritage of life, but which only the finest dream of and but few obtain.

I would like to say a word concerning her last illness which has not been touched upon. It was perhaps characteristic of her that the last words she said should have been words of appreciated and gratitude, said to the nurse who was ministering to her quite unconscious, as were all of them, that the end was so near. The nurse gave her a moment of comfort and she said, "How beautiful! How beautiful! Thanks!" and then as the nurse shifted her pillow, she said, "Thank you," and was gone almost immediately.

Many of her friends have felt that these words- these extravagant words, as it were,- but not extravagant to her- were characteristic; for any human service which was simple and genuine was beautiful to her, and she was ready to pour out her gratitude for the smallest embodiment of tenderness and care.

Many times she sent out quotations to her friends. I have one here which she may have sent to many of you in this audience, and I read it, not only because she cared so much for it that she sent it to her friends, but because it does, in a very large measure, express herself. It is by Olive Schreiner, and here it is:

"Holiness is an infinite compassion for others; greatness is to take the common things of life and walk truly among them; happiness is a great love and much serving."

And perhaps we might add to this, that she did all of these things, and in addition she steadily used this gift which she possessed, although it was very difficult to use and which often led her to misunderstanding. It was not easy to try to establish these relations with people who prefer to be treated according to conventional rules, or who do not wish to be disturbed; but because she insisted upon using this force, although it was often bungling and unsatisfactory, it remains as her finest possession.

Item Relations


Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>