A Celebration of Women Writers

"Justice and Freedom for All." by Princess M. Schahovskoy.
Publication: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham, ed. The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U. S. A., 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894. p. 569.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 569] 



A few days ago I was asked to speak on the following quotation: "Justice and freedom for All are Far More Desirable than Pedestals for a Few." I was unable to do it then, but some friends having read the few ideas I had put on paper I was particularly asked to read them to you this morning.

Freedom and justice for everyone indeed. Is there anything more desirable than that, if those who claim it know how to take advantage of these two privileges? Freedom is the first condition of each step of advancement, and justice the first duty of those who wish to avail themselves of that advancement.

And so freedom and justice become the conditions of our improvement; but improvement, as all development, goes step by step. These steps of human development are the hard and arduous conquest of a few who give the example, and thus become the leaders and helpers of those who are more weak and have no strength to raise by themselves. The highest steps of this ladder of progress we poor mortals of the crowd call pedestals, and forget that they are but footsteps for a farther way up.

Now, if freedom and justice are the only conditions of advancement, pedestals are the only way to its gradual accomplishment. Yes, pedestals for a few are abnormal, indeed; not because they should not exist, but because as every privilege they should become the aim of everybody. So let us not regret that they exist. Let us never put a man on a pedestal, but whenever he himself has risen higher than us, then let us strain every effort to ourselves rise to his level.

The true way of hero worship is not to stay in passive contemplation and burn the incense of adulation where envy, alas, often mixes its nauseous fumes, but to lift yourselves in a joyful movement of admiration and thankfulness to the side of him who showed us one of the ways of perfection.

For my part there is no pedestal that I consider so high that its height could prevent me from looking up to it, no man so perfect that his perfection could intimidate my imitating him, and no man so low that he should give up all hope of rising himself to reach a pedestal.

[Page 569] 

Princess M. Schahovskoy, maid of honor to Her Imperial Majesty, the Empress of Russia, was the Russian representative at the Congress of Representative Women which convened in Chicago, Ill., in 1893, Russian Commissioner for Woman's Work, exhibited in the Woman's Building at the Columbian Exposition, and Judge of Awards in the Fine Arts Department of same Exposition. Princess Schahovskoy is a sculptor of ability, and is devoted to art and literature. In social circles she surrounds herself with many admirers by her genial, affable and charming deportment.

* The full title under which the address was delivered was "Justice and Freedom for All are Far More Desirable than Pedestals for a Few."


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of volunteer
Mary Hitchcock.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom