Mount Vernon, Sept. 17, 1833.
My very dear Miss Lyon,
On returning from school this evening, I had the unexpected pleasure of receiving your very interesting letter. I need not say with what eagerness its contents were perused. I had formed various conjectures as to your long silence, but your letter relieved all doubts and fears that I had entertained.
Your visit at Philadelphia was quite a long one. I hope you did not want for care and attention during your illness there. It would have afforded me much satisfaction to have accompanied you hither, had it been thought best. I think, if ever I should return to Now England, it would be pleasant to go by the way of that city.
I did not commence school until Aug. 12 having been here about three weeks. During that time I had a good opportunity to get acquainted with the people among whom I have come to reside; their manners, customs, opinions, etc. The inhabitants, coming from different parts of our country, do not seem to profess that disinterested public spirit which [leads?] people to make personal sacrifices for the good of the whole. There are but few here who have the advantages of a good education. Mount Vernon has not wanted for schools within a few years past, though they have not been of such a character as to render them permanently useful.
My school is composed of 15 young ladies, the majority of whom are from 12 to 18 years of age. They have all or nearly all of them, attended school from their childhood. They have heretofore, it seems, had the liberty of choosing what studies they would attend to, and as is too often the case with young ladies, the lower, and most important branches have been grievously neglected.
After what you wrote, it was expected that I should direct what they should study. Most of them seemed satisfied with this arrangement. One young lady however, wished to attend to Rhetoric, Nat. Philosophy, & Composition, as she expected to attend school but a short time. However she has been persuaded to wait awhile, and attend with the rest to Reading, Spelling, Arithmetic, Composition, Geography, and Grammar. At present these are the branches taught in school with Drawing, Chirography and Calisthenics. Only two attend to Drawing. They seem to like Calisthenics very much. I think it will be of great advantage to them. With respect to government I have found but little difficulty. You know then are always some, who will always do what is right. There are not three or four of this class. One is a young lady about 17 or 18, who has some unpleasant habits. She likes to have her own way in everything, & can hardly bear to be corrected if she makes a mistake in her recitations. She sometimes shows a want of respect and will mutter to herself when things do not exactly suit her. Notwithstanding all this, she is very capable and is among the most improved of the school, as it respects knowledge. The regulations which they have been requested to observe are few; whispering and tardiness are the principal. They succeed very well upon the first point, and are improving upon the latter. I have also found it necessary to pay some attention upon the point of eating in school. They all acknowledged it was not proper, and have given it up. Upon the whole, though I have some trials and difficulties, they are fewer than I anticipated. With respect to religious instruction, I pursue the following plan. Morning and evening, I read a short portion of Scripture. In order to secure their attention, each one is requested to repeat some passage they have read. The exercise is concluded by a short prayer. I have as yet met with no opposition to any of my plans. They have Bible lessons for the [?] Sabbath. I have commenced with the book of Genesis. [Study?] of the Bible seems quite a new thing to many of them. They are almost entirely ignorant of its precious contents.
[7?] of my scholars belong to families, who are almost,(if not quite) infidels! I regret that I did not bring Emersonís Biblical Outline with me. About ten days after commencing school, I received a short visit from the Rev. C. C. Beatty of Steubenville. He staid in Mt. Vernon all day and night. Visited the school, and seemed much interested my undertaking. He gave me a catalogue of his school, and invited me to come and see it, during my next vacation. I should like to go very well. Mr. B. was in quest of a teacher for his school, to take charge of the mathematical department. He had some hopes of obtaining Miss Lyman who has left Chilicothe. The school there, it seems, does not succeed very well at present. Mr. B. said there were 96 pupils in his school this season. He made some inquiries respecting the Ipswich Seminary. I informed him that you were journeying this summer and thought some of visiting Ohio. Mr. B. preached in this place in the evening.
I have received one letter from home since I have been here or rather several letters on one sheet. Lacy was at Derry. Miss Bray, & Miss H. Smith are assistant pupils at the school this quarter, as Miss Sawyer did not return. I hope Lucy will yet come and teach in this country. My situation is far more pleasant than I expected it would be. Miss Cowles is truly a valuable friend. I know now what I should do without her society. She bas been here about 15 months, and knows the character of the people. She has a small school of small children. Her health is feeble. It is a great comfort to have a friend entertaining similar views with myself & engaged in the same great work. We have a female prayer meeting every Friday attended by a faithful few. Oh that God would pour out his Spirit in this town. Will you not pray for us? We need [?] prayers of Christians.
With much affection,
May I hope that you will continue to favor me with letters from time to time?
(Miss Mary Lyon, Fredonia, N. Y.)