ADMINISTRATION OF MISS WARD.
The telegram announcing these appointments found Miss Ward in Switzerland. It was arranged that she should remain abroad until October, her associates meanwhile carrying on the school. Both had been long connected with the institution, Miss Blanchard belonging to the class of '58, and Miss Edwards to that of '59. For two years, Miss Edwards had been principal of the Lake Erie Seminary, at Painesville, Ohio.
Various circumstances conspired to make this a critical period in the history of the seminary. Never
*After a few months of much needed rest, Miss Ellis went to spend some time in Europe. For a while she shared in the benevolent labors of Mrs. Dr. Gould at Rome. She was afterwards the lady principal of Iowa College.
before had educational matters held so prominent a place in the public view. Especially was this true in regard to the education of women. The time had gone by when it needed strenuous exertions in order to secure a single permanent institution of high order for girls; now, they were rising on every side. Every department of knowledge was making rapid progress; this naturally involved corresponding changes in methods of instruction. And thus, while the seminary had hitherto been constantly advancing, it was more than ever indispensable that it should advance now.
The newly appointed principal and her two associates were well fitted to meet the exigency which they so perfectly comprehended. They understood what the seminary was intended to be and to do; they believed in it with all their hearts; they devoted themselves to it without reserve. They were in the habit of thinking that what ought to be done could be done; and their courage and faith inspired those who shared their toils.
The school year opened auspiciously, under the management of Miss
Blanchard and Miss Edwards. The late principal - now Mrs. Lemuel Gulliver,
of Somerville, Massachusetts - kindly came for a few days to share in the
labor of organizing. On the fifth of November Miss Ward landed in New York,
after a stormy voyage. Without allowing herself any interval of rest, she
came to the seminary on the following day, to take up her work. It had
been decided to provide increased facilities for the study of modern languages,
without at present including them in the required course. French had been
more or less pursued from the first; but hereafter there was to be a special
teacher for modern languages. Miss Ward brought with her from France a
lady of much ability and experience in teaching both French and German.
Previous to her arrival, classes in both languages were in progress, instructed
by a teacher who came several times a week from Springfield. During the
year, nearly fifty students took French, and twenty-five German. Instruction
in Greek also was provided, and several pursued the study of that language.
The chemical lectures this year were given for the first time by Prof. Charles O. Thompson, then at the head of the Worcester Free Institute of Technology. For the next ten years, he gave a course of about twenty lectures each winter. It was a matter of deep regret at the seminary when, in 1882, his acceptance of the presidency of the Rose Polytechnic Institute at Terre Haute made it impossible for him to continue services which were so highly prized. His sudden death, March 17, 1885, in the noontide of his usefulness, was deeply mourned wherever he was known.
For two or three years, there had been a feeling that a new building was needed, to be devoted to science and art. While its precise outlines and arrangements were not yet very clearly defined, every one felt that there were wants for which there seemed no other way to provide, and which a new building might be expected to meet. The telescope had been almost useless for some years, because the trees had overtopped the little building that sheltered it; there must be a new observatory. Former pupils, of whom not a few were in foreign lands, were often sending collections of plants, minerals, and other valuable objects, for the cabinets; and there was no room to bestow these fast accumulating treasures where they could be accessible for study. A new building would not only meet the present want, but would doubtless attract many future gifts. And well filled cabinets were now quite as indispensable as books, - in scientific studies, even more so. An art gallery was desirable as another feature of the new building; for the general and growing interest in art, and the importance to a liberal education of some knowledge of its principles and history, could not be overlooked.
administration, a circular was issued, asking former pupils to send specimens for the natural history building which was beginning to be hoped for. Meanwhile the subject had been in the minds of the trustees; and at their meeting in July, 1873, it took definite form in a resolution to build, if the way should be clear to do so. This decision was greatly assisted by the generous offer of a member of the board, A. Lyman Williston, Esq., to give seven thousand five hundred dollars, one-fourth of the sum then supposed to be needful. The action of the trustees was publicly announced the next day, as well as the promised donation, though the giver's modesty did not permit the mention of his name. But the secret was easily guessed, and the pledge of so large a sum at the outset did much to encourage further donations.
That summer Professor Agassiz opened the Anderson school of natural history - the pioneer of the present host of summer schools-at the island of Penikese. Thither went from the seminary the enthusiastic teachers of botany and zoology, Miss Shattuck and Miss Bowen. Those weeks of eager listening while Agassiz, Guyot, and other great masters taught, and of ardent working under their guidance, were indeed fruitful and ever memorable to the crowd of teacher-students gathered there. Nobody could help imbibing a positive passion for scientific investigation, and for the laboratory work without which it could not be carried on. And thus the need of the increased facilities which the new building would afford, seemed to the Holyoke teachers still more imperative.
But there was much to be done before the way would be clear to build.
The donation pledged by Mr. Williston, and afterwards increased to ten
thousand, did not supersede the necessity of many lesser gifts, most of
which must be laboriously gathered by personal solicitation. Moreover,
in studying the various plans proposed, it became evident that there should
be more ample provision for class rooms, cabinets, and
laboratories; and although the thought of combining an astronomical observatory with these was given up as inexpedient, the estimates as finally adjusted amounted to fifty thousand dollars.
This, like the first of the seminary buildings, was destined to be erected "in troublous times." The financial panic of 1873 was just beginning. Men of wealth in many cases found their property so much depreciated in value that they hardly knew what they could call their own. It was about this time that a gentleman of property suddenly died, leaving a will in which was included, among other benevolent bequests, a large legacy to Mount Holyoke Seminary. But the will was not signed. Had the intended gift been received, it would have been an easy matter to build the new hall. It was doubtless wisely ordered, however, that this undertaking, like previous ones in the history of the seminary, should call for much exertion on the part of its friends, as well as constant reliance upon God.
Two recently chartered colleges for women were at this time building
in Massachusetts, - one of them scarcely half a dozen miles from South
Hadley. Times had changed within forty years, and each of these was to
be erected by the munificence of a single individual. The founder of Wellesley
College was a warmly interested trustee and benefactor of Mount Holyoke.
Far from wishing to supersede or interfere with the work of the seminary,
he proposed - as already stated - to reproduce its most important characteristics
at Wellesley, and to attract thither from neighboring cities many who would
otherwise be trained very differently. "There is no danger of having too
many Mount Holyokes," he used to say with emphasis. Yet it was not very
surprising that some should excuse themselves, from aiding Mount Holyoke,
on the ground that the new colleges would meet every want. "Let the seminary
just go on as in the past," such would say; "if any of her students desire
more than she can provide,
let them go afterwards to Wellesley or Smith." Almost at the outset of the effort to raise funds for the new building, a city pastor, when consulted as to certain possible donors in his church, requested that they should not be approached. When it was urged that this was a critical time for the seminary, which was the pioneer and mother of schools for women, he replied, "The mothers die, and the daughters take their places."
Happily there were not a few who appreciated the need, and sympathized with the effort. To these it was clear that in the present circumstances, failing to advance would be virtually falling back. To cease growing would be to die. To take the position of a preparatory school, as some appeared. to expect, would altogether subvert the aim with which the seminary was founded. Its training was meant to be preparatory to the work of life, and to that alone.
Dr. Kirk, the president of the board of trustees, was strong on this point. His successor, Dr. Tyler, of Amherst, remarks, "He always insisted on the necessity of keeping the seminary ever in the foremost rank of schools and colleges for the sex, as in Christian character and life, so in the standard of scientific attainment, literary culture, and all high and true womanhood. . . . While he contended earnestly for the faith and spirit of the founders, and insisted on keeping the seminary true to the principles on which, and the purposes for which, it was established, he was never afraid of innovations which were in the line of real progress. Indeed, he often remarked that the seminary was one great innovation, and Miss Lyon herself the greatest of innovators. Naturally, he felt the deepest interest in the erection of the new building for science and art."
In 1873-4, the seminary was crowded with students, more than three
hundred being in attendance at the opening of the year. This was a larger
number than ever before, excepting in 1863; it was in fact larger than
could well be accommodated. In the circumstances, this was a cheering token;
and others followed. Efforts
to raise funds met with considerable success, hard as were the times. Now and then, gifts were arriving for the art gallery and cabinets that were to be. One of these, from the class of '71, was "The Morning Glory," an exquisite marble medallion on an easel, the work of the sculptor Jackson. During the two or three years while the art gallery was still waited for in faith, the "Morning Glory" sojourned in the parlor, the fair forerunner and pledge of the long train of beautiful gifts which have been coming ever since. The elegant engravings of celebrated paintings by Selous, "Jerusalem in her Grandeur," and "Jerusalem in her Fall," presented by the class of '61, came still earlier; and while they were temporarily adorning the seminary hall, silently prophesied to class after class, of beautiful things which they should by and by bring, as their own offerings.
The year 1874 is memorable for the departure of four whom the seminary counted among its chief friends. Mrs. Safford was the first to go. She had ably sustained Miss Lyon when few. favored the enterprise, she had enlisted more than one of the seminary's firmest supporters, and she had never ceased to bear it upon her heart. In her last illness, her parting word for the pupils was, "Tell them to study the Bible till they love it better than any other book." To a friend she said earnestly, "Do you live much in heaven? Remember that One is interceding for you, that you may be prepared to enter there." Her death took place February 24, 1874. "She was conscious till the last two hours," wrote a friend, "and was full of faith, love, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Among her last expressions were, "Heaven grows bright! . . . I must die that I may live." Dr. Kirk, her pastor for more than thirty years, at her funeral remarked on the sacred words, " To die is gain."
apparently in his usual health, he had attended the minister's meeting, and had spoken so ably on the topic of revivals, that his brethren requested him to continue the discussion the following week. On Friday morning, March 27th, while noting the outlines of his intended remarks, he laid down the pen and rose to take a few turns, as he was accustomed to do, in the parlor where he was writing. While walking to and fro, his feet faltered, his tongue and hands refused their wonted service, and he soon became insensible. A few hours passed, while tender and anxious ministries of friends and physicians surrounded him; then the heavenly gates were opened, and the blessed soul entered into eternal joy.
The tidings of Dr. Kirk's departure was a heavy and unexpected blow. Only two days before, as Miss Ward parted with him at his own house, he had promised her that he would soon come to the seminary for a visit. What his influence had been to both teachers and pupils can hardly be told. "The impression he made upon us in those days," says one of the class of 1859, "was that of a great and good man wholly intent upon drawing us away from that aimless, selfish life to which we were sure to be tempted, to one of earnest consecration to Christ." As the class of that year stood before him to receive their diplomas, he began his last address to them by saying tenderly and impressively: "Young ladies, your course of study here is now closed. It remains to be seen whether you will live for self, or for God." To the class of ‘68 he said: "You have selected a noble motto. Were you aware of its beautiful, comprehensive ambiguity? Was that your purpose? If so, I echo it in the fullness of its meaning.
breathes the humblest spirit of Christian dependence, the loftiest
aspiration of Christian heroism. Not by our created strength and wisdom,
not to our selfish earthly ends, will we live. This, dear young friends,
disengages you from earth, identifies your will with God's, girds you with supernatural strength for every work and conflict, elevates your toil, purifies your affections, makes your earthly life celestial."
"Nothing was more manifest to all who knew him," says Dr. Tyler, "than his forgetfulness of self, and his entire absorption in the work of doing good to men and honoring the Master. . . . In childlike simplicity and humility, in spirituality and heavenly mindedness, and above all in prayerfulness, his prayers being the secret spring of his life, and his life being, in the language of Justin Martyr, 'all one great prayer,' I think he surpassed all the men with whom I have ever had the happiness of being associated. There was the hiding of his power."
At the meeting of the trustees in July, Dr. Tyler was elected president of the board, which office he has never been permitted to lay down.
In December, within three days of each other, Mrs. Banister and Mrs. Eddy entered into rest. The death of the former, with whom Miss Lyon was associated at Derry and Ipswich, was to the Holyoke teachers and pupils a personal bereavement. She had been their guest only a few weeks before; and previous visits, particularly one a year earlier,* when she was prevailed upon to remain two months, had made her a dear friend whose counsel was much sought and greatly prized. Though now fourscore, the clear intellect, the rare conversational powers, the winning yet dignified manner, and the warm Christian benevolence that had marked her active, years were still retained. In the course of
*In her life, lately published by the American Tract Society, there is an allusion to the seminary in a private letter:-
these visits, she spoke to the school many times, and always with such aptness and ease that one would think she had never left the principal's chair.
Though never in firm health, and often a sufferer, she was habitually bright, cheerful, and full of interest in whatever was worth knowing or doing. At the time of her death she was spending a few weeks at the home of her step-daughter, Mrs. Hale, in Newburyport. It was preceded by only a brief illness, from neuralgia of the heart. Frequent paroxysms of mortal agony were patiently endured till the end came, December 3, 1874. "If the Lord will," were her last words, calmly uttered only a few moments before she ceased to breathe.
Of Mrs. Eddy, who was so closely connected with the early years of the school as Miss Lyon's associate and immediate successor, no fitting sketch can here be attempted. Though her health was never fully restored, the twenty-four years that passed after her leaving the seminary were tranquilly and usefully spent in her own pleasant home. Her love for the institution was ever warm, and for years her visits were frequent, and her counsels of great assistance. She died of pneumonia at her home in Fall River, Massachusetts, December 6, 1874, after an illness of only two days.
A somewhat full course of lectures on art was enjoyed in the latter part of 1874. The lectures were given by several of the Amherst faculty, and included short courses on architecture,, sculpture, painting, poetry, and music. Not long afterwards, provision was made for studying the history of art in the senior year, as a part of the regular curriculum; and there have since been lectures in this department nearly every year. In French, German, and Greek, special courses were arranged, each occupying four half-years. While these are not intended to take the place of any part of the required curriculum, one or more of them makes a valuable addition to it.
volumes of smoke covered the roof, in the southwest corner of which, around the chimney, the flames were just bursting forth. There was no fire engine, and not much water at hand, nor even snow. The building burned like tinder; in a few minutes the whole roof and spire were in a blaze. A few articles were snatched from within, and then those who were on the spot strained every nerve to save the dwellings near. Within an hour it was all over; the spire had fallen backward into the body of the church, which was already burnt bare-its "pleasant things laid waste." The beautiful new organ had been destroyed; the familiar seats, the pulpit, the communion table, hallowed by the sacred memories of so many years, were all gone.
In the afternoon a service was held at the seminary, and attended by many of the citizens. The pastor, Dr. Herrick, chose the text, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." For thirteen months, public worship was held in the seminary hall, which had been cordially offered by the trustees, and which by means of additional seats compactly arranged was made to accommodate between five and six hundred. At the close of the morning service, the Sabbath school followed; the evening meeting, however, was held in the small chapel, which had escaped the fire.
One of the pleasant memories associated with these months, when the church sojourned with the seminary, is thus related in the journal:-
"We are sure that few more interesting scenes can ever have been
witnessed in the seminary hall, than the communion service last Sabbath
afternoon (May 2nd), when twenty-five young persons made profession of
their faith in Christ. Seven of these were members of our own family. Our
pastor welcomed each with some brief and appropriate word of holy scripture,
as he gave the right hand of Christian fellowship. The hymn was that one
endeared to so many by its
association with similar sacred occasions, "O happy day that fixed my choice."
As the seminary had owned a third of the church, a special meeting of the trustees was held February 10th, to consider certain questions in connection with the rebuilding. After conferring with a committee from the parish, the board proposed definite terms of agreement, which were accepted, and the new church was in a short time begun.
The site chosen for the new scientific building was a little northeast of the main edifice, with ample room on every side for the beautiful lawn and pleasant walks that were to surround it. By some happy fore-ordination, a magnificent black walnut tree, more than ninety feet in height, was already there; as if, scores of years, before the building was dreamed of, it had been appointed to stand like a stately sentinel at its door.
The corner-stone was laid on the first of June, 1875. It was a bright
and beautiful day. At four o'clock, the trustees and other friends, with
the teachers and pupils, passed out through the pleasant grounds to the
chosen spot. The outline of the future walls could be clearly traced, and
it required no great effort of imagination to see the fine building that
was to be. The company gathered around the southwestern corner of the foundation,
and after Dr. Tyler had invoked the divine blessing, an original poem was
read by one of the young ladies, and a paper relating the history of the
enterprise thus far, by another. Dr. Seelye, of Amherst College, made appropriate
remarks, in which he spoke of the present undertaking as continuing the
work begun with so much faith and prayer by Mary Lyon. The corner-stone
was lowered to its place by Mr. Williston. Underneath had been deposited
a leaden box, containing catalogues and other documents relating to the
history of the seminary, with stereoscopic views of the buildings and grounds.
The exercises were closed with prayer by Dr. Herrick, the pastor, and the
Notwithstanding the financial pressure, efforts to raise money were continued with some success. During the term, the principal devoted much time to this work, and obtained several thousand dollars; other teachers also labored effectively for the same object. The amount secured was made up chiefly of comparatively small sums, and represented many donors. Sometimes between two gifts came many unsuccessful solicitations. One day, eighteen gentlemen were visited without a single contribution being received, although expressions of interest were numerous and evidently sincere.
As the church was not finished, the anniversary exercises of this year were held in a tent spread in the grounds east of the library. "It was such a novelty," says the journal, "to see our white-robed procession turning into the grassy field, and after a little winding among the scattered apple trees to find ourselves in the cool, airy tent. We sat facing the south, with the library on the right, and the rising walls of our new building some distance to the left. The weather was deliciously cool, our speaker, Dr. Seelye, of Amherst, seemed in his happiest mood, and the address, delivered without a scrap of a note, was beyond praise. Everything was so delightful that we wished we could have our exercises in a tent every year."
Much was done in the line of internal improvements during the summer of 1875. Steam was introduced for cooking, in connection with the enlargement of the heating apparatus to warm the new hall; and many other changes were made in the domestic department to lessen labor and save time. At this time also, rowing was first provided for. Three beautiful boats were presented for the use of the young ladies; a boat house has since been built, and other boats added. Ever since, rowing has been a favorite diversion.
member, and at one time, president. "You will recollect that we have had the honor of entertaining this highly agreeable body once before," says the journal. "On this occasion we had thirty or forty guests, including the distinguished Professor Gray, of Harvard, Professor Blanpied, of Dartmouth, President Clark, of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, and many other gentlemen as well as ladies, from New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. At the afternoon session, as many of us as could find room in the library were admitted to hear the discussions, and found them no less entertaining than instructive."
Early in 1876, by request of the Commissioner of Education, a historical sketch of the seminary was prepared by Miss Nutting. An edition of this was published at Washington, and sent by the Bureau of Education to many institutions from which similar sketches were desired, "as a specimen of the work in preparation for the Centennial of 1876, and as covering the leading points of inquiry." A large edition was published by the seminary, and widely circulated in connection with its exhibit at the Centennial. The sketch was found useful also as a reply to inquiries regarding the history and work of the institution, which are always numerous. In 1878, another edition was required, a considerable portion of which was used at the Paris Exposition.
In April, 1876, another fire swept away the hotel, stores, and post office, with several other buildings; and for a time it threatened to destroy many more. The flames spread with fearful rapidity; there was no fire engine nearer than Holyoke, nor any way to summon one save by sending a messenger. Fortunately the evening was mild and still. The seminary family promptly responded to the appeal for their personal help, and a "bucket line" was quickly formed,* conveying
*The seminary has since been amply supplied with hose and hand-grenades, in addition to the fire-extinguishers and force-pumps then on hand. There is also a fire-escape.
water from the nearest faucets, through the front door, and over thirty rods along the street. Meanwhile the steam pump was set at work to keep the cisterns full, and some of the young ladies were carrying water from private houses near the fire. People whose homes were in immediate danger were bringing valuables to the seminary, and numbers were beginning to come in from the neighboring villages. The roads were in such a state that it was an hour and a half after the alarm was given before the engine arrived. The progress of the fire having been delayed just then by the distance of the next house, the firemen soon extinguished it. Had it not been stopped at that point, it would doubtless have destroyed all the remaining buildings on that side of the street, and perhaps the seminary also. The village people were disposed to give a good deal of credit to the ready and resolute assistance of the hundreds of young women. The burnt portion of the street was soon rebuilt, partly in brick, so that the appearance of the village was changed only for the better.
A course of lectures on "Science and Religion," by the Rev. Joseph Cook, in the spring of 1876, awakened great interest at the seminary. Among the subjects were, "The Certainties of Religious Truth," "Causes of Skepticism in New England," "Decline of Rationalism in Germany," "Evolution," and "Materialism." Numerous question on the themes so ably presented were brought by the students. These questions, after having been somewhat classified, were answered by the lecturer, at two or three evening gatherings of intense interest, which were additional to the lectures.
[END OF CHAPTER XV]