Vassar College Digital Library

Keffer, Bertha. Diary, 1876

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VC 1876, handwritten.,This item is a collection of writings by Keffer and her classmates. It features a lengthy poem about the arrival of the first Japanese students in 1872, which also appears in Ella C. Lapham's (VC 1876) scrapbook. The racist poem mocks the Japanese students' English language skills and warns that they are thieves who should not be trusted. The collection also includes class songs and odes, as well as a sampling of short, humorous poems mostly related to studies at Vassar.,The Japanese Princesses\n"Sixty Minutes Every Day"\nExtract from the Class History of '75.\nOde, Class '76\nClass Song - '76\nClass Song - 76 - Lorelei\nClass Song - Cheer Boys Cheer\nBooks read - Kalamazoo '76 & '77\nTrust\nDavid Damouna\nDr. Ferrier's Remedy for Cold in the Head

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Finding aid:
vassar:1947,Box 121,
1 item
These materials are made available for research and educational purposes. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the copyright status of materials in the Vassar College Digital Library.
Poughkeepsie (N.Y.)


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Bertha Keffer
Vassar College
New York


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"The Japanese Princesses

Sailing out from the Eastern Seas
There came to our shores five Japanese

In the quiet gloom of the evening late
They rapped with their chopsticks on the gate

The sound to the Faculty's office went
And down stepped our gracious President

'Oh Eastern maidens I hear you're come
To enjoy the Vassar curriculum.

I bid you welcome and promise fair
All the mental culture we have to spare.'

They rolled their languishing almond eyes,
And pensively gazed on the fading skies.

Then shaking gently each tawny head
'Me speakee no English, sir,' they said.

Then briskly from out the wing of the north
A staid Professor sallied forth.

Who muttered on seeing each silent Jap,
'Ha, caught at last in basaltic trap.'


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But aloud, 'Dear ladies it doth me please
To see your faces, bright manganese.'

'And I join with those who would fain invite
You to stay your mental appetite,

And hope that happy will be your state
Beneath our roof of Talcose slate.'

But of no avail was the welcome neat
'Me talkee no English' did they repeat.

Then gracefully elbowing through the hall
Came stalking another Professor tall,

Who tossed from his brow one lock of gold
And bowed with the grace we know of old.

Most charming ladies, the world shall see
What a kind protector you'll have in me.

I'll be a father, brother, friend
A grandfather even if you recommend,

And I'll amble with you, since you can't go quick
Through the thorny mazes of Rhetoric.

While swiftly too, yet I'm not sure,


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We'll gather the flowers of Literature.

This speech, perspicuous and clear,
These senseless maidens seemed not to hear

The pointed thesis of Bachus' wit
Seemed unable their mind to fit.

And, as he absently smiled and sighed,
'Me talkee no English,' they all replied.

Then forth from the southern wing there came
Another Professor of equal fame.

His look was gentle, his manner bland,
And he swung a cane from his well gloved hand

His coming was told by a growl and a bark
And "c... c..." was his remark.

Then up to the maidens they saw him go
And heard him murmur, 'du, de, dum, do'

He bowed before them on bended knees
Exclaiming 'Salve, O Japanese.'

But as the ladies declined to speak,
He had recourse to 'original Greek.'


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And said in a voice both soft and low
'Oh! Erin ... agape.'

But still the damsels echoed the cry
'No talkee English,' was their reply.

And then there came through the crowded hall
A last Professor serene and tall.

He stepped before them and grandly said
As he gazed on the queues which adorned their heads

'Were you once hung by that braided queue
What a pendulum I could make of you

It would only disclose the method of tanning
What a new discovery to make in Japanning.

And from your eyes we might get a notion
Of the origin of rotary motion.

And from your nation's old mystic lore
Might learn what we never learned before

Why circles are round and roots are square
And how when angry you tear your hair

They are remained like fishes, dumb,


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'Me no talkee English' did answer come.

At last the President forward came
'I'll take you in, in our Matthew's name,

And give you the best we can afford
Of care and attention and bed and board.'

He led them up through the wondering crowd
With a footstep firm and an aspect proud

He gave them each a parlor alone
Leaving twenty eight "preps" without a home

And waving his hand in fond farewell
Went down the wonderful news to tell.

And all night long did the roaring breeze
Repeat the names of those Japanese.

Ah, sad it is to publish abroad
A deep dyed story of woman's fraud.

And deep it cuts to my very core
To add to the record one tale more.

The morning dawned as morning will
And sprinkled her flower o'er wood and hill


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And early on sleeping ears there fell
The dulcet tones of the rising bell.

But not to the cheerful breakfast hall
Appeared these maidens at the signal's call

And even the loud, full stroke of nine
Of these ladies' faces brought no sign

And when we knocked at their parlor door
A silence answered, nothing more.

The rooms were empty and dark and lone
The cage was open--the birds had flown

And with them--Oh horrors manifold.
The Presidents watch of purest gold

Our Professor's young heart with despair was sick
To miss his gold headed walking stick

Of another loss there were some reports
A chrystal charm of purest quartz

While another's blood in his veins did curl
As he missed his studs of purest pearl

And he lifted his voice and said in woe


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That ever a woman should treat me so."

A moral is always sure to please
This is Beware of Japanese

And if ever you see some fair "Nancy Choo
Or a gentle Sousee smiling at you

Be not beguiled by those almond eyes

And say as you bow her from the door
"No, no, fair Jap, I've been there before,"

And I've learned a lesson from maidens like thee
And I fear the pensive young Japanee."
M. Townsend


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"Sixty Minutes Every Day."

The shades of night were falling fast
As round the College quickly passed
A girl who plod her weary way
Because she'd heard the President say;-
"Sixty minutes every day."

Her brow was sad, her eyes below
Were red and swollen as with woe
But in her ear still sadly rung
The accents of that awful tongue
"Sixty minutes every day."

From the windows gleamed the light
Of the cosy rooms all warm and bright
She thought it very hard to bear
That she must be in the open air
"Sixty minutes every day."

"Come in," her roommate called, "and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast."
A tear stood in her mild blue eye
But still she answered with a sigh,
"Sixty minutes every day."


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The thought of the warning oft repeated
When in chapel all were seated
Of men with dogs who prowing round
Were very likely to be found
In her "Sixty minutes every day."

So thinking, trembling as she went,
Till all her vital force was spent
And chilled "by evening damp and dew
She fell, still faintly moaning too
"Sixty minutes every day."

She by Thomas in his rounds
Half-buried in the snow was found
And as he took her in his grasp
She raised her head and gave a gasp
"Sixty minutes every day."

There in the twilight cold and gray
Lifeless yet beautiful she lay
She died a martyr to her cause
Trying to keep those awful laws
"Sixty minutes every day."


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Extract from the Class History of '75.
Written by ... ...
Whether our work with commendation will meet
If we our class History should repeat
We are not very certain.
Nor if we were would we dare to say
Since Livy tells us t'was not the way
With the best of ancient writers
And if our fame should seem obscured
By greater workers, t'will be endured
By the thought of another's greatness.
Let each one follow in thought, I say,
How the health of the girls at length gave way
And finally came down headlong.
After the manner of ancient men
We call on the gods and goddesses then
to aid in our undertaking.


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In the Freshman class of '75,
Of which but four are now alive,
To tell the mournful story,
Were girls who worked & strove in vain
A single word of praise to gain
From the classic llips of Hinkel;
For he said, "Ill tell you in kind-
ness of heart
That common ability forms no part
Of your natural constitution.
T'is not of this only I complain,
For I've talked & talked & talked in vain,
You do not seem to heed me.
In my leetle dog's tail there is, alas
More activity than in the Freshman class,
For it never knows cessation.
I greatly fear you will not pass
You are not fit for the Sophomore Class
You never do remember.
I think I will now new measures take
A Special Prep class soon to make
For the benefit of the Freshmen.
You never know your "..." well.
I vow this class is one big sell!
... quick! does no one speak?


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It might as well be so much Greek
For all you know about it.
Asyndeton & quippe qui are not quite plain
I'm sad to see, to your muddled brain
Chrismus next, does no one know?
What! not one on the second row?
I will not have this trifling.
Also the scheme of part & whole
From your tongues must glibly roll.
Why don't you study harder?
Why don't you ask me what may be
The privilege of a Vestal V.?
Have you no interest in it?"
Com... would excite him so
That when the bell rang none dared go
Till the last note was taken.
These words & those of similar kind
Had an evil effect on the student's mind
And one that was most unlooked for.
"Namely," the students sat up late at night
And copied Livy from pure fright
That the Prep Class would receive them
And now comes our tale to the saddest part
And one that will serve to rend the heart
Of each attentive reader.
The girls grew sick, one after the other
From an unknown cause which none
could discover


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Not even the sage professor.
And he said as one by one they died
And in their coffins lay side by side,
"We had better have a post mortem."
The sorrowing class-mates knew, alas:
What caused the death of the Freshman class,
And this tale will solve the riddle."
Foster & Dyckman.


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Ode, Class '76

Ring out, o '76 your song
To Vassar's name a tribute bring
We hail her now, we'll love her long
As time flies by with rapid wing
We leave with her hearts warm & true
And now before we say adieu
We pledge our faith to her & 76

With kindly greetings from the shore
We launch our boats on lifes broad stream
They're warmed from Vassar's bounteous store
Their swelling sails in sunlight gleam
With truth & courage at the helm
We'll brave the storms, enjoy the calm
And loyal hearts we'll keep for '76

Our aim & purpose for the right
Our strength in honor truth & love
Our watchword wisdom's power & might
Our trust in him who reigns above
We'll true to Vassar's teachings live,
We'll honor to her ever give
And to our own loved class of '76


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Class Song - '76

Sing cheerily o '76
A merry gladsome song
In honor of our college home
And all its happy throng
May Vassar's glory never fade
Never, never, never,
But brighter grow through coming years,
A beacon light forever.

What mem'ries fond will cluster round
Our loved cent'l class
One mind, one love has been our bond
As the bright years have passed
And now at last the goal is won
The end is just in view
And Vassar's portals open wide
On vistas strange & new.

Ring summer bells your merriest chime
And banish care & fear
Let class day be a happy time
Though partings are so near
Let music in the twilight hour
Around us weave a spell
That shall our hearts with gladness fill
And every grief Dispel.


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Class Song - 76 - Lorelei

Our College Days are over
our course is almost run
The time has come to sever
The bond that made us one
O sad sad hour of parting
From friends so tried & true
O sad sad hour for saying
That mournful word, adieu

Behind us stretch our well known
And happy College Days
Before us lies the wide world
With all its untried ways
O many a time in after years
For auld lang syne we'll sigh
And mem'ry will but brighter grow
As the long years pass by.

Yet as Deep joy lies close to pain
This parting ne'er to meet
Brings out a depth of earnest love
That makes our sorrow sweet.
Farewell our Alma Mater
Loved more than we can tell
And happy happy bygone Days
Farewell, a long farewell.


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Class Song - Cheer Boys Cheer

We are gathered round our Alma Mater
See her children come from far & near
Some are still beneath her kind protection
Some with joy return to greet her here
O Alma Mater, great the debt we owe thee
We are trained for entering life by thee
May the seed which thou has sown among us
In coming years, a golden harvest bee.[sic]
Alma Mater though from thee we're severed
We remain forever leal & true
Thou hast been to all an inspiration
May we bring to thee some honor new.
As from darkness comes the slow faint dawning
And from dawning comes the perfect day
As in ages past arose the bright earth
Where alone the waste of sea had sway
So may Vassar's glory grow forever
May her work bring light throughout the land
As the pioneer alone she waited
May she ever amidst the foremost stand
Chorus ---


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"Miss Nellie Bates stood at the gates
of Heaven a sighing
The door was locked, perfectly blocked
She put herself to crying
She couldn't get in, for the only sin,
of asking for this picture.
Said Prof. d'Armand "C'est une bonne enfant"
She is a lovely creature.

A good thing it was he sat on the grass
Inside of Heaven's door.
For I am afraid that the little maid
Would have remained before.
So she came in, the happy thing,
And for the angels ran
She hopped & sprang & danced & sang
Smiling at Profess d'Armand"


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Books read - Kalamazoo '76 & '77
"Helen's Babies"
Thinks-I-to-Myself ...-1871
... Mannering
Romance of Spanish History - Abbott
Coleridge's Poems
Vanity Fair
The Gods & Other Lectures Ingersoll
The Tent on the Beach
Graziella - par A. De Lamartine.
Charles V (3 vols.) Robertson
Last Days of Pompeii - Bulwer


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"Make a little fence of trust
Around today
Fill the space with earnest work
And therein stay

"Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow
for will help thee bear whatever comes
Of joy or sorrow."


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David Damouna


Geraldine Hartoppp was considered by the esoteric to be a girl of striking eauty. The truth known to the esoteric few was that there was a certain hydrostatic force in her as fact which compelled either admiration or hate, & had been known to draw tears of envy. She pawned her necklace at Baden Baden to pay a gambling debt, & next day it was retured to her with a mysterious note which she associated with a mysterious stranger who had watched her with some contempted in his hooked nose as she played. After this her family was ruined.


Courtebotte was immensely rich & descended from a line of kings. He sat at breakfast with his hanger-on Plush whom he fed alternately with the dogs who cringed at his feet. Plush for his own reasons tried to dissude Courtebotte from proposing to Geraldine but rec'd for an answer a kick & an oath in


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an inward voice.


Geraldine finding that she could not go on the stage resolved to marry Courtebotte who had several other establishments.


While Damouna was exploring a synagoge an ancient Jew plucked him by the coat & said, "Look here mister, you're one of us."


This made Damouna think & hold himself up by the coat collar, a favorite action of his. He then pulled a Jewish girl out of a river & became acquainted with a consumptive Hebrew who wrote poetry & addressed Damouna as his brother.


Courtebotte's high breeding came out in his habit of beating his wife and sewaring at her in his inward voice.


Damouna met his hitherto unknown mother who was a Jewish opera singer. "S'help me," he cried in ecstasy, "I always thought I was a Jew."


Geraldine was never quite sure whether she helped her husband to drown


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or not. Darmouna advised her to keep it dark, but did not propose to marry her. "It is no matter" she said "I shall be a better woman for all you have said to use." "Shallbalah" said Darmouna, taking himself up by the collar & lifting himself out of the room. After this he married th elittle Jewess he had pulled out of the river.


Dr. Ferriers Remedy for Cold in the Head

Tinustrate of Bismuth 6 drams
Pulo. from Arabic 2 drams
Hydrochlorate of Morphia 2 grains
Mix - use as snuff