WHEN Miss Lyon withdrew from labor at Ipswich it was with a distinct conception of the seminary she was to found. For six months she had distributed extensively a printed circular, addressed to the friends and patrons of Ipswich Seminary, containing the main features of her plan. She believed that the arguments which had commended the plan to her own understanding, if fairly presented, would convince many others.
On September 6, 1834, some days before the term closed, a few gentlemen of large views and larger hearts met by invitation in her private parlor to devise means for founding a permanent seminary according to her ideas. They appointed a committee to commence operations at once, with authority to act till the appointment of a permanent board of trustees. The committee consisted of Rev. Daniel Dana, D.D., of Newburyport, Rev. Theophilus Packard, D.D., of Shelburne, Rev. Edward Hitchcock, Professor in Amherst College, Rev. Joseph B. Felt of Hamilton, George W. Heard, Esq., of Ipswich, Gen. Asa Howland of Conway, and David Choate, Esq., of Essex.
The committee appointed at this quiet meeting scarcely known to twenty persons outside the room, supplied their own vacancies and added to their number from time to time, Rev. Roswell Hawks of Cummington, Rev. William Tyler and William Bowdoin, Esq., of South Hadley Canal, Rev. John Todd and Rev. Joseph Penney, D.D., of Northampton, Rev. Joseph D. Condit
of South Hadley, and Samuel Williston of Easthampton. Till a charter was obtained these men stood before the public as responsible agents for establishing the proposed seminary. Some of them became trustees and others resigned their places on the committee.
Within two months from the meeting in her parlor, Miss Lyon collected from women in Ipswich and vicinity nearly one thousand dollars for expenses of agencies and other preliminaries; January 8, 1835, the committee decided upon South Hadley as the location, provided the subscription there could be raised to eight thousand dollars; April 15, 1835, the seminary was named; February 10, 1836, the charter was granted; May 19th, the site selected; and October 3rd, the corner-stone laid. September 6, 1837, just three years from the meeting in her parlor, Miss Lyon wrote, "Our building is going on finely. The seal to everything is soon to be fixed. My head is full of closets, shelves, doors, sinks, tables, etc." November 8, 1837, the school opened.
These sentences contain much more than appears.
That Mary Lyon by her own personal efforts should raise one thousand dollars
in two months, speaks not only of enthusiastic zeal on her part, but of
answering interest on the part of the donors. From the pupils of the seminary,
she received a free-will offering of two hundred and sixty-nine dollars.
A former pupil sent one hundred dollars from the far South, whither she
had gone to teach. The ladies of Ipswich, grateful for the privilege, gave
her four hundred and seventy-five dollars. The rest was given by women
in the neighboring towns, before the seminary bad a name or a place, and
when there was no expectation that it would be located nearer than Worcester
county or the Connecticut valley. But Miss Lyon was well known as a thorough
teacher, a successful manager, and an honorable woman. The money was paid
when it was solicited, and was the pledge of future success. She always
called it the corner-stone of the institution. It was the first known attempt
for advancing the
The pupils who had gone forth from Ipswich were representatives of the system she wished to perpetuate. Their well known character won favor for her plans. It was the testimony of herself and her agent that wherever they found those graduates they gained a readier access to the hearts of the people. What the Ipswich Seminary did for her in eastern Massachusetts the Buckland school did in the western portion of the state.
Yet it is difficult at the present day to
appreciate the obstacles encountered by ail enterprise so new, or the courage
and persistence needed to overcome them. When Miss Lyon asked the Boston
Recorder to publish some articles in her favor, the reply was that they
would if she paid for them as for advertisements. But she had more than
indifference to contend with. "Respectable periodicals," says Dr. Hitchcock,
"were charged with sarcasm and enmity to her plans. So ungenerous were
some of these attacks, that I volunteered in her behalf, I found her entirely
unruffled. Shedid not object to the spirit or style of my defense, and
I left it in her hands to be published if she thought best. But that is
the last I ever heard of it." That she never destroyed his paper shows
that she was not insensible to the kindness of her friend; but her only
reply to such attacks was that of another builder, "I am doing a great
work. I cannot come down." She was not indifferent. "No one can be more
sensitive to such criticisms. I feel them keenly," she said, "but I receive
them as a severe yet indispensable test of my character." There would be
a brief struggle, then a smile and the gentle remark, "Well, we will go
Through Rev. Dr. Packard the enterprise was brought before the Massachusetts General Association at its meeting in Lee, 1834. A committee was appointed and a favorable report made. But when the minutes were read at the close of the meeting, such opposition appeared that a vote of reconsideration was passed and the recommendation erased. "Thus you see," wrote Dr. Packard, "that the measure has utterly failed. The hand of the Lord is in all this. Let this page of Divine Providence be attentively considered in relation to the subject." Attentive consideration did not prevent a renewal of the effort. Of the next meeting of that body Miss Lyon wrote: "Rev. Mr. Todd requested Rev. Morris White to bring the seminary before the Association. The subject was presented and a committee of five appointed to report on it. Mr. White was not on this committee, and probably not one who was known to have any interest in the object. In the committee one objected because he was a trustee of an academy. A second was much more opposed. Mr. M., a quiet, good man, would do nothing any way; Mr. C., a candid man, the youngest of the five, was favorable. Mr. White and Mr. C. sought to bring the matter to a close in some way not injurious to the object; so Mr. White told the committee that he only wished to secure some general resolves in its favor, but as they were opposed to it, he would withdraw the proposition. This brought them to terms and they reported three resolutions. The first was in favor of Christian education among women; the second granted that sufficient effort had not been made; and the third recommended Mount Holyoke Seminary or any other institution designed to effect a similar object; and they were passed without opposition."
That a woman with such aims could have other
than selfish motives was too rare to be readily understood even by the
best men of those times. Some who might otherwise approve the work feared
it would soon end. When Miss Lyon was talking it over with Prof. Emerson
of Andover, the brother of her revered teacher, we are told by Mrs. Haven: "My father asked 'who shall he be that cometh after the king? Will it not die with you?' ' No, it will not, we shall raise up our own teachers and it will go on,' she replied, immediately resuming the subject of her enthusiasm."
Thoroughly convinced of the worth and practicability of her cause, she did not fear to stand and act alone, patiently waiting for others to see the subject as she did, for she was certain that the object would finally commend itself to the good common sense of New England. Save for this faith, she could never have enlisted so many heads and hearts and hands as were needed to carry out her plan. Yet it was a severe trial to go forward in opposition to the opinions of some of the best and wisest. Each of the principal features of the plan was opposed. There were good men who had no faith in the success of appeals confined to the motive of benevolence. Even Miss Grant objected to low salaries for teachers, and thought the domestic feature unadvisable.
Miss Catharine Beecher wrote: "I fear you are starting wrong. It is the object of great plans to raise the profits of our profession. If this is not secured the profession will be forsaken by energy and talent and be the resort of the stupid and shiftless. It cannot be sustained by the missionary spirit. That will send forth ministers and missionaries, but rarely teachers. Therefore all plans that tend to sink the price of tuition will probably be discountenanced. by the most liberal and expanded minds that are engaged in the enterprise."
Miss Beecher recommended setting a high price
for tuition, with the understanding that all who needed should receive
aid. Miss Grant and Miss Lyon had for some time been giving such help by
gift or loan. It led to the formation in 1835 of the Society f or the Education
of Pupils in Ipswich Seminary-the first Education Society for women. But
Miss Lyon preferred to bring
tuition within reach of the largest number and to build on the broad educational principle of self-help.
To Miss Grant's objection Miss Lyon replied: "While the public are so little prepared to contribute liberally to an object like this, may it not be expedient that those who first enter the field as laborers should receive as a reward so little of 'filthy lucre' that they may be able to commend themselves to every man's, conscience, even to those whose minds are narrow, and whose hearts are not much enlarged by Christian philanthropy? If such a course should be desirable at the commencement, how soon it would be no longer needful, time and experience alone can decide."
Her answer to Miss Beecher follows:-
Our plan is to place tuition at what will be regarded by the entire New En-land communit as moderate tuition. Here let it be distinctly understood that we do not adopt this standard because we consider ourselves under anv obligation to mail so to do. Neither do, we consider it necessary that other institutions should adopt the same standard, or that this institution should certainly abide by it evermore, though at present it is essential to our success.
I have not been alone in considering it important to establish a permanent seminary in New England for educating women to be teachers, with accommodations, apparatus, etc., somewhat like those for the other sex. Honorably to do this, from twenty to forty thousand dollars must be raised; and such a sum, raised for such an object, would form an era in education for woman. For years, Miss Grant and myself made continual efforts to accomplish this; but we failed.
Having adopted this second course, we have been for some time as successful as we could expect. We have enlisted for the work. I have regarded it as a work for life. In laying our plans, we examined carefully every step. In the commencement of any great enterprise, the community are often unprepared to act upon the most important considerations, while moved by less important, but more tangible circumstances. During my long but fruitless efforts in onnection with Miss Grant, I became convinced that the community were not preared to appreciate file most important advantages of ail institution thus endowed, such as its superior character and its permanency. I was also convinced that, to give the first impulse to this work, something more tangible must be presented, of real, though of less value, and that it must be made to stand out in bold relief. For this purpose, we have chosen the reduction of expenses as compared with other seminaries. Every step we take proves it a good selection. We carefully avoid all extravagant statements; indeed, we usually state only general facts, leaving each to make his own estimate and draw his own conclusions. There is ail expectation that economy will be practiced in the establishment, that the funds, gathered by little and little, will be reserved for the good of the institution, and not for private emolument, and that there will be such a reduction of expenses as the nature of the case will allow. Here is our pledge, and we must redeem it. In doing this, the first object to be gained is good niltuagenlent in the boarding department. Let that be secured, and all else will be sure to follow. I do not expect to have the direct care of the boarding departnient, but I hope to secure the co-operation of those skilled in domestic economy, and disposed to use their skill faithfully. The department of instruction I expect to superintend myself; and it is essential to success in the boarding department that I should set ail example of econorny in my own. Otherwise, I cannot influence this point in other departments. I do not mean to ask any other one collnected with the institution to make such sacrifices as I call cheerfully make. This may not be necessary for my successor, but it is necessary in my case, at least for a few years.
Again, we have held up the advantages of a teachers' seminary, with ample facilities for boarding and instruction, free of rent, of so superior a character that a supply of scholars could be secured without receiving the immature and ill prepared, who are always a tax on the time of teachers. We have shown that the same money will ill this way do more to aid young women to qualify themselves to teach, than
I express myself with more confidence on this subject, because it has been with me, for two or three years, a matter of careful consideration; but further, because our indefatigable agent is of the same opinion, and lie probably knows more of the views of the New England community on this point than any hundred others.
You speak of the importance of raising the compensation of teachers. In a list of motives for teaching, I should place first the great motive, which cannot be understood by the natural heart, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." On this list, though lower in rank, I have been accustomed to place pecuniary considerations. I aiu inclined to the opinion that this motive should fall lower on a list to be presented to ladies than to gentlemen, and that this is more in accordance with the system of the divine government. Let us cheerfully make all due concessions, where God has designed a difference in the situation of the sexes, while we plead constantly for the religious privileges of woman, for equal facilities for the improvement of her talents, and for the privilege of using all her talents in doing good!
the presence of his daughters whom she had hoped to have among her first pupils, and then merely inquired where Miss Lyon was, and sent his respects to her, without inviting a call. On learning this, Miss Lyon buried her face in her hands and bowed her head on the table in keen disappointment. In a few moments the cloud passed and she rose saying, "If God wants me to succeed, I shall succeed. We will go on." It is due to that clergyman to say that he afterwards apologized for the manner of that day, and confessed that he ought to have had more faith in the undertaking of a Christian woman like Miss Lyon. It is but just to say that most of those who opposed her plans ultimately acknowledged their wisdom and gave her their aid. Many were friendly but incredulous. One wrote ten years later, "I remember when you explained your scheme to me I thought it excellent, only I was afraid it would prove like a wonderful machine Dr. Beecher used to tell us of, admirably contrived and admirably adjusted, but it had one fault, - it would not go. You see I was mistaken; it does go most beautifully. I rejoice in your success, and there is joy in heaven over it also."
So long and prayerfully had Miss Lyon surveyed
the whole ground that she could not turn back without doing violence to
the strongest convictions. In 1835 she wrote, " I have no doubt I am following
the leadings of Providence. His dealings towards this new enterprise have
been such as should lead me to trust wholly in the Lord. Every success
has been from his hand, and every discouragement has been such that when
good comes we feel constrained to say, 'This is the Lord's doing.' It seems
to me more and more that this and similar institutions are a necessary
part of the, great system of means for the conversion of the world. The
feeble efforts which I am allowed to put forth in co-operating with others
to lay these foundations will probably do more for Christ after I am laid
in the grave than all I may do in my life. It is a great privilege to labor
for him in any place and in any circumstances
he may direct, and a still greater privilege to lead others todo more than I can ever accomplish." "From some indications I expect trials in future such as I have neverknown. Sometimes I am almost ready to exclaim, ' When will the work of my feeble hands be done that I may go home?' But through the mercy of God these seasons are not frequent and do not continue long. Generally I feel that the dark cloud which hangs over the future is under the direction of Him who led his people by a pillar of cloud and of fire."
She longed for the sympathy of friends, but was willing to go on with only a very few. Friends were given her. If some failed, others took their places. The peculiar features of her plan became the means of her success.
After leaving Ipswich in 1834, Miss Lyon took
up her abode for the winter in Amherst, attended some of the college lectures,
and reviewed the natural sciences, to be the better prepared for future
teaching. She improved every opportunity to talk of her project with intelligent
people whom she met. Whenever there was a prospect of promoting her plans
by her presence elsewhere she was sure to go. By desire of the committee
she attended their meeting at Worcester to decide upon a location. The
mercury was below zero in Amherst that January morning when she and Prof.
Hitchcock took seats in the stage, three or four hours before sunrise,
each wrapped in a buffalo robe. Andover, Worcester, Brookfield, and Northampton
had been talked of, and Rev. Cyrus Mann had presented the advantages of
Westminster; but South Deerfield, Sunderland, and South Hadley had each
offered a handsome subscription to secure the seminary. Always preferring
the central or western part of the state, Miss Lyon was intensely interested
in the question but was satisfied to leave the decision with the committee.
The location decided, a name must be found. Prof. Hitchcock had published
in newspapers an outline of the proposed seminary and suggested for a name,
The Greek term had been the occasion of so
much sarcastic remark that Miss Lvon's friends feared the enterprise would
be injured. But those newspaper articles did far more good in a single
case than all the harm they could do. They were read by a lady in Connecticut
who had once been sent to a school where the instruction received and the
money paid seemed almost in an inverse ratio, and she had had the good
sense to discover it. A seminary of high order proposing to put expenses
at cost roused her interest. She soon after became the wife of a prosperous
business man of Boston, who had decided that all the increase of his property
above needed expenses should not only be the Lord's, but should year by
year be spent in his service. Riding in their carriage from Boston to Belchertown,
this lady entertained her husband with an account of the projected seminary,
and they agreed to give it a part of their surplus funds. As they drove
into the town their attention was attracted by some unoccupied buildings.
Learning that they were for sale, they sent a letter to Miss Lyon asking
whether she could make use of them. Twice before, Miss Lyon had heard that
name. Mr. Stoddard, of Boston, had told her, "He is just the man to carry
forward your work"; and while she was praying over the matter Prof. B.
B Edwards, who had married one of her Buckland pupils, had recommended
the same man as reliable for counsel
and aid. When the letter came, thinking he might be the owner of the buildings and desirous to sell, she feared he would not look on her plans with favor. Yet she ventured to write him, requesting an interview. He replied by inviting her to his house. She used to tell her pupils years after with moistened eyes, "I cannot describe my feelings when I found myself at his door. Between the ringing of the bell and its response, I tried to roll all my care upon the Lord and be willing to receive not one encouraging word, if so my God would be most honored." As she unfolded her plans, watching intently every expression of her hearers, she saw that they listened with eager interest, but had then no knowledge of the way the Lord had prepared them for her visit. When by themselves the husband asked, "How much do you think I should give Miss Lyon? "The wife replied, "I thought perhaps you would give five hundred dollars." He was surprised at the answer, but rejoiced the friends of the cause by affixing that sum to his well known name. It was the first, but by no means was it the last five hundred dollars he gave. His interest in the seminary increased until it became his favorite work, occupying his thoughts as well as receiving his money, and filling scarcely a smaller place in his aff eetions than in Miss Lyon's. "What I have given to Mount Holyoke Seminary," said he, "I consider the best investment I have ever made; there is no depreciation in the stock; it yields the largest dividends." But the time, influence, and sympathy which he and his wife gave to it were worth more than their thousands of silver and gold. From the day of that visit to the day of her death, Deacon Safford's house was Miss Lyon's home in Boston.
Rev. Dr. Packard was a connecting link between
the school at Buckland and Mount Holyoke Seminary. We have seen him communicate
to Miss Lyon the action of the Franklin Association in 1829. He was chairman
of the general committee appointed in
Ipswich, September 6, 1834, and was the first agent employed. He was a friend in the infancy of the enterprise, when most needed, and gave much time and energy to devising ways for securing subscriptions. One plan was to have scholarships of two hundred and fifty dollars each, owned in shares, the owners being at liberty to send a pupil for fifteen dollars a year less than others. Miss Lyon saw great objections to this plan. After full conference, at a meeting in Ipswich in December at which Dr. Packard was present, the committee decided to depend on the free will offerings of an enlightened public.
Unable to devote himself to the work, Dr. Packard introduced to Miss Lyon a younger man, Rev. Roswell Hawks of Cummington, who had previously been a pastor in Peru. Like other New England pastors he took young men into his family and fitted them for college; Cummington has been noted for the prominent men reared there, some of whom, Henry L. Dawes, William C. Otis, Eli A. Hubbard, and W. W. Mitchell, were his pupils. He was instrumental in establishing two schools in Cummington, both of a high order, but neither on a permanent basis. His daughters often heard him say, "While so much is being done for young men, there is not an endowed seminary in the land for our daughters." For years he had been studying how to secure greater advantages to them. It was his favorite theory that as woman was the occasion of the fall, she is to bring back into society, the family, and the church, those influences which prepare the way for the coming of the Son of God.
"At a meeting in Boston in May, 1834," his
daughter writes, "he met Dr. Packard and said, 'I want to confer with you
in regard to a plan for the education of the daughters of our land.' Dr.
Packard replied, 'If you have that in view you should see Miss Lyon of
Ipswich, who is here for the same purpose.' She was not unknown to him,
for he had sent a daughter to her school in Buckland. They met; Mr. Hawks,
heartily into Miss Lyon's project, declared
himself ready to do anything in his power to forward it, and from that
day onward, no person was a more patient listener to her plans or a more
sincere co-worker in their execution. She came to have such confidence
in his judgment that she would undertake no important measure without first
consulting him, and neither would adopt a course the other did not favor.
Each had the same objections to Dr. Packard's proprietary plan for raising
funds." The following account given by one of his daughters refers to a
meeting before the summer of 1835: "Miss Lyon and father met at the house
of Dr. Hitchcock in Amherst, to go to Boston to a meeting of the committee
when foundation principles, were to be settled. Long before dawn Mrs. Hitchcock
had served their breakfast and they were waiting for the stage coach, but
no coach came. They had been forgotten, and as there was no other conveyance
they had to wait till the next morning. They were two days on the way and
meantime the important meeting was in progress. Late in the afternoon the
two weary, anxious travelers entered the room to be told that principles
had been adopted, plans formed, and the meeting was about to adjourn. Had
the adjournment taken place, the Holyoke of to-day had never existed. The
conclusions reached related to two subjects; one involved the principle
to be followed in soliciting funds, the other was a question whether Miss
Lyon's name alone would be regarded by the public a sufficient guaranty
for the success of an enterprise needing so much money. It seemed to the
committee that Miss Grant's name also was needed, and therefore that the
plan must be modified to meet her views, though it would require radical
changes. But when Miss Lyon explained her plans, both decisions were reversed
and Mount Holyoke Seminary was given to the world. Not being then a member
of the committee, father withdrew from the room with the request that he
might be notified when the subject of agencies came up. A long time he
waited. Then Deacon Safford's genial face appeared. I Go home to tea with me,' lie said. Father replied, 'I am waiting to speak on the subject of agencies.' ' Too late,' said Deacon Safford, 'the work is done, the meeting adjourned, and you are appointed sole agent, for you have faith that money can be raised, and that it can be done on the benevolent principle, and we have not.' 'It was for that reason I intended to decline,' was the answer."
His people were unwilling to relinquish him. Some of them ridiculed the scheme of a seminary for women. Some thought be must certainly be of unsound mind. One of the most influential told him he had mistaken his duty; that he could do a thousand-fold more good by laboring for souls in his parish than by establishing that school. But he was full of faith that the Lord had a greater work for him to do and told his people that if by his remaining with them every soul in Cummington would be converted, he would not remain, for he felt sure that the establishment of a seminary for the education of women would be a far greater work. So strong was the feeling of his people that they declined to contribute for the seminary, claiming that in giving their pastor they had done more than any other town.
His whole heart was enlisted and he entered without delay upon the task of raising funds for the project called chimerical by some and by some even wicked. How his faith triumphed is attested by the very walls of the seminary; but the fatigue, cold, and hunger he endured in his journeyings, that the funds of the seminary should not be lessened for his needs, was then known only to God and himself; in after years it became known to his family.
Of the noble women who gathered round Miss
Lyon, none is more worthy of mention than his wife, Mrs. Eliza (Green)
Hawks, who took on herself unwonted burdens and met cheerfully many a sacrifice
that he might give all his time to the cause equally dear to both. That
was a joyful hour in 1842 when they saw
their three daughters receive the diploma of Mount Holyoke Seminary.
Mr. Hawks did a similar work for Lake Erie Seminary in Painesville, Ohio, but his love for the first child of his toils and prayers was strong to the end, and by his request his body sleeps in the cemetery within sight of its walls, and within sound of its bells.
In June, 1835, the committee voted to invite the ladies of the Connecticut valley in Massachusetts, to raise one thousand dollars, and addressed a circular to the Christian public from which these extracts are taken:-
2. It is to be based entirely on Christian principles, and while furnished with teachers of the highest character, and with every advantage that the state of education in this country will allow, its brightest feature will be that it is a school for Christ.
3. It is located at South Hadley, Massachusetts, on the banks of the Connecticut, at the foot of Mount Holyoke, in the center of New Eiiglarid, easy of access from all quarters, and in the midst of the most delightful scenery.
4. The buildings are to accommodate two hundred young ladies.
5. It is designed to cultivate the missionary spirit among its pupils; no romantic idea of moving in some high sphere, but the feeling that they should live for God wherever lie may appoint their lot.
6. The serninary is to have a library and apparatus equal to its wants; and such internal arrangements that its pupils may practice those habits of domestic economy that are appropriate to the sex, and without which all other parts of education are too expensive.
7. rhe seminary is to be placed on such a pecuniary basis that all its advantages may be within the reach of those in the common walks of life. Indeed it is this class principally, who are the glory of our nation, that we seek to help. The wealthy can provide for themselves; and though we expect to offer advantages which even they cannot now command, yet it is not for their sakes that we erect thisseDlinary. We intend it to be like our colleges, so valuable that the rich will be glad to attend it, and so economical that people in moderate circumstances
8. In order to establish it, the committee believe that not less than thirty thousand dollars is needed. Everything is to be done as econoinically as possible, yet the materials and work should be the best of their kind. Of this sum, South Hadley has pledged eight thousand dollars, which with other subscriptions makes about one-third of the sum. required.
The object and plan have been in niany respects grossly inisrepresented-probably through ignorance. But wherever they have been understood there has been but one voice, and that in their favor.
We have daughters who would gladly become teachers, and go anywhere to do good-were they only prepared. We have a population of millions calling loudly for instruction. The spirit of enterprise is such that we cannot induce young men to become teachers. We must look to the other sex for a supply. To obtain it this plan has been long maturing. It commends itself and will succeed, for it is the offsprinIg of prayer, and if any were ever actuated by pure motives, we believe those are who have been praying this seminary into existence. We commend it, dear brethren and friends, to your sympathies, prayers, and charities.
Committee to address the public.
"It is desirable that friends should carefully consider the design of this institution before influencing any to avail themselves of its privileges. Its main features are an elevated standard of science, literature, and refinement; and a moderate standard of expense: all to be controlled by the spirit of the gospel.
"Its object is to meet public and not private
wants; to provide not for individuals only, but for our country, and for
the world, by enlisting the talents of our most gifted daughters. Some
may be wealthy; some may be fitted for the service by an answer to Agur's
prayer, others may struggle under the pressure of straitened means; but
we hope the desire to do good will be the chief motive, bringing together
congenial souls. Unlike many institutions of charity this does not provide
for the relief of individual want, nor directly for the instruction of the ignorant and degraded."
She could not describe its literary standard by comparing it with that of established institutions of the kind everywhere known, as one could do in founding a new college for men. There was no other school to which she could point as an example in this respect when she added: "It is to take the literary standard of Ipswich Seminary, allowing for continual progress, just as that institution has been advancing from year to year. It is to adopt the same high standard of mental discipline and thorough investigation, and the same systematic course of solid studies." An outline of that course was followed by the remark, "That it may accomplish the most good, it is designed for an older class of young ladies, and it is desirable that they should advance in study as far as possible before entering."
Mr. Hawks was diligently soliciting funds.
Miss Lyon often went with him from town to town, although at great cost
of feeling, for she knew her motives were misconstrued. July 24, 1835,
she wrote Miss Grant: "The more we seek to draw the public to aid us, the
more perplexing will be our work; but we shall not shrink from this if
we can thus lay a foundation for our successors to labor abundantly for
Christ." She was urged to rely less on personal efforts and more on her
pen and the agent. But pen and agent were already doing their utmost. It
was the Lord's cause and she was willing to make herself of no reputation
if necessary for its advancement. Her pupils recognize the motto she was
following, "What ought to be done can be done, and you are the one to do
it if no one else is ready." Her persuasive eloquence was remarkably successful,
yet long afterward she said that if she had known how much she would have
to suffer in these efforts, she might never have made them, adding joyfully,
"but perhaps I should not have prized sufficiently my present opportunities,
had I not passed through that trial."
For the hundreds of miles she traveled between September, 1834, and November, 1837, the funds of the seminary were never drawn upon, nor for the postage of her large correspondence-when the rates for single letters were from six or ten to twenty-five cents each. From her own purse she expended for the cause from twelve to fourteen hundred dollars.
She had learned not to look to the wealthy for the most efficient aid. In Conway she visited Deacon Joseph Avery, of whom she wrote January 11, 1836: "During the past twenty years he has probably given more to benevolent objects in proportion to his property and family than any other man in New England. I was delighted with the godly simplicity, well balanced views and systematic benevolence of the family."
For several years this good man gave the seminary
substantial aid from his rock bound farm. Like Miss Lyon, he could not
bear to see a cent of the sacred funds of the seminary go for naught. At
one time when an artist's plan had been purchased which did not prove available,
he paid the bill in addition to his large subscription. This kind deed,
at a time when her own purse was poorly able to bear another draft, Miss
Lyon never forgot. When he could give no more in money toward the erection
of the first building, be came to South Hadley and gave the labor of his
hands day after day. Deacon Avery was a progressive man. After the addition
to the building in 1842, when the trustees with some anxiety faced the
question whether the Dew seminary hall should be carpeted, he was one of
the first to approve the outlay, saying, "The times demand it. The education
of the world is being carried on here." Though without college training
he was not unlearned. During an algebra examination in the seminary, another
trustee said, "I suppose this is all Greek to you, Deacon Avery." Not quite,"
he replied; "when my boys were studying algebra and geometry I studied
In Conway also the Misses Maynard pledged their prayers and efforts. How this came about is told by a niece who lived in Ashfield near Miss Lyon's mother: "Miss Lyon came from her mother's to our house one day with a plan to visit my aunts in Conway, and I was allowed to go with her. I can never forget that ride nor how full of enthusiasm she was in the cause of education for women. My aunts each promised her one hundred dollars, and though they soon after lost their property they were unwilling to lose the privilege of helping Miss Lyon to the full extent of their pledge. I remember also how her mother used to come in and talk with my mother about her diseouragements. One day after a long talk, she threw herself back in her chair saying, "But Mary will not give up. She just walks the floor and says over and over again when all is so dark, 'Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass.' Women must be educated - they must be!"
In a cabinet in Williston Hall are to be seen the coins referred to by a Holyoke pupil in the following paragraph. "Well do I remember standing with Miss Lyon by her open drawer, as she took up several silver dollars bearing the traces of fire. Her eye kindled as she said, 'These were among the first contributions to our seminary. They were given by two sisters whose house was burned after they had subscribed one hundred dollars each. We felt that they were released from obligation, but they earned the money with their own hands and paid the whole. These dollars gathered from the embers were part of their gift. I replaced them with my own money and kept them as a memento of their faithfulness and of God's goodness to the seminary.'" With such money was the institution built. With the prayers of these and kindred spirits was every stone and every brick consecrated to the Lord.
One book contains the names of more than eighteen hundred subscribers froln. Dinety places, promising a total of $27,000, as follows:-
Abington, $1,136 50
New Haven, $50 00
These subscriptions vary from six cents, in three cases, to one thousand dollars from Deacon Safford and another thousand from Samuel Williston. Partly because of the financial depression of 1837 some of these pledges were never redeemed, others only after long delay. Another book has lists of names with pledges of ten, twenty, fifty, or a hundred dollars annually for five years. The larger the sum, the shorter the list.
Of all these documents probably the one Miss Lyon most prized is the paper bearing the autograph signatures of the Ipswich ladies to the first thousand dollars.
[END OF CHAPTER 4]