If any place in the modern world can be compared in difficulty to the station of the man in public life, it is that of his wife. His task is hard enough; petty minutiae, the uncomprehending objections of the people he would serve, contrive to annoy him; yet a little praise from those people, though it may be slow in coming, can sweeten the bitterness of a thousand quibbling opponents. For the woman who is a conscientious helpmeet, however, there are innumerable trails and duties without the prospect of direct self-satisfaction; the pleasure of success can be for her at best only a reflected glow, while the darts of the fault-finders penetrate her as deeply as they do her husband.
The life of Anna Parker Lowell proved that "helpmeet" is still a word with all the strength of its Biblical origin, and no mere ornamental epithet. When Mr. Lowell became President of Harvard, she entered at once into the life of this most complex of universities. She occupied herself with its social affairs, was helpful in the work of the Harvard Dames, and welcomed students with cordial informality to the Sunday afternoon receptions. But more than the graces of the temporary hostess were hers: she made the President's House a center of hospitality throughout the year for the University and for the legion of visitors, whose number reached its peak at Commencement. She was accustomed to visit students at the Infirmary, and her interests in charitable undertakings outside Harvard were widespread.
Here, for over twenty years, the First Lady of the University led a life so active that not even illness could compel her to retire and to become a legend while she still lived. Only at the end did she yield; and not even the end means for her a final severance from Harvard, for she will become one of its fairest legends.