Summer Schools and Academies 145
to the arithmetic, would ask them if they expected to carry pork to market, else why should they want to take up such a study. Some of the girls attended private schools — " finishing schools," they were called — which had been established at the dictate of fashion to cultivate ladylike accomplishments. All the larger towns had schools of this kind. Boston gentlewomen were accustomed from very early times to eke out their incomes by taking into their homes little girls and misses from the country and from the southern colonies and the Barbadoes who wanted to attend the finishing schools of the city. Salem and Newburyport were also favorite towns for acquiring feminine polish. The finishing schools taught a smattering of French, the art of embroidery and other fancy needlework, considerable dancing, and many elegant manners. Dancing seems to have had an especially important place among the young misses' attainments, though in early colonial days it was inveighed against by both magistrates and ministers. Increase Mather loudly proclaimed its evils just as he did the evils of wearing wigs — "Horrid Bushes of Vanity," he called those head adornments. But perverse human nature adopted both wigs and dancing, and presently " ordination balls " were given when a new minister was installed.
About the beginning of the last century, girls' schools of genuinely serious aims and purposes came into being, and their high character and the success of their pupils, and the like success won by the girls in the academies, were very effective in