METHODS ILLUSTRATED BY QUOTATIONS FROM PUPILS.
Another says: "It was Miss Lyon's faith and life that gave such indescribable power to her words. The truth she uttered had in her a living illustration so lovely and so majestic as to attract and awe the mind. She seemed to inscribe 'Holiness to the Lord' upon every household duty; on our studies and even on our amusements. I thought then, that perhaps in the course of my experience, I should find some one equally disinterested, and as devotedly pious; but in these forty years I have never seen her equal; and in her memoirs she is not described as so wholly devoted to Christ as she really was. Indeed, I do not think any pen can do justice to her unvarying devotion to her Saviour; eternity alone will reveal its power. With so spiritual a leader the atmosphere of the seminary was religious. Few could resist the influence of such daily life."
A clearer knowledge of Miss Lyon will be gained from the following quotations from her pupils, who repeatedly affirm that her character was more powerful than her words, indeed, that the power of her words was in her character.
patient she was with us about the turban [which she began to wear after loss of hair from a fever nine years before]. I feel guilty and ashamed to this day every time I see her dear face in that last picture. Why did we not let her wear her turban always, and the becoming arrangement of smooth dark-chestnut hair? I don't remember who began it, but it was the fashion then for ladies of her age to wear caps of lace, tied under the chin, with wide full ruffles around the face, and smooth plain bands of hair underneath, and we wanted her to be in the fashion. So we made up a purse, and bought a beautiful cap of silk blonde; and also wash blonde, and thread lace edging, of which we made others. Then one or two of us carried them to her and asked if she would please to wear them. 'I thought,' she said, 'I should always wear a turban. But I will do almost anything to please my daughters.' She wore caps always after that."
The next tells "who began it."
"But one thing annoyed us. It was that huge turban. My roommate and I, two of the youngest pupils, were clear starching in the laundry one day, when Miss Lyon came in and began to talk of dress, and its influence. ‘O Miss Lyon,’ I impulsively exclaimed, 'if you only would wear caps!’ ‘Do you think,’ said she, 'that my influence would be better? But then the time! I can do up a turban while the bell is ringing for dinner.' 'You need not mind that,' said we, 'when you have ninety daughters who would gladly do up caps for you.' 'O well,' said she, 'if my ninety daughters prefer to have me wear caps, I am very willing to do so.' The next week a beautifully becoming cap came to her as a Thanksgiving present and the obnoxious turban was seen no more."
"In the affectionate welcome of our first meeting, and afterward
through all our intercourse, Miss Lyon impressed me as a woman of remarkable
tenderness combined with great force of character. She made me feel at
home with her at once. I never was afraid to
speak to her any more than to my mother, and yet I always felt toward her the greatest reverence. Noticing that with her fresh complexion, caps were more becoming trimmed with white ribbon, I said to her one day, 'I wish you would always wear white ribbons, you look so much better in them.' She smiled and replied, 'It would be too extravagant, as they get soiled sooner.' I playfully remarked that if that was all, we would take up a contribution, and buy them."
"She enlisted us in making our home attractive. In the spring vacation of the second year we were requested to bring flower seeds or shrubbery and were promised that the grounds should be prepared and the yard fenced by the time the term began. This was done, and I returned with a trunk filled with roots and seeds, and planted the first dahlias that grew there. Before the summer term closed, the front yard was gay with blossoms."
"She liked to have us free with her. She would rather have our loving confidence than our worship. Suggestions about household arrangements she received with thanks and acted upon them."
"At first the rules seemed many, but I discovered that when trying to do right I rarely violated any or thought them irksome. I once said to Miss Lyon, 'I don’t see the necessity of so many.' She replied that at first the law of love was enough, but as pupils increased and were less mature, she had to be more explicit. They came one by one, sometimes at the suggestion of pupils themselves. 'Well,' I admitted, I they are all reasonable but one. I can see there should be a rule for retiring and for rising, but why one against rising before five o'clock? What would be the harm if one did?' Then she spoke of some who would take time from sleep for study, and of one who wanted to get through in two years and used to retire at ten and rise at midnight to resume her studies, and so injured her health. I saw then the wisdom of that rule."
idea of her piety. On account of the full house and incomplete arrangements, on my first night in the seminary I was sent to sleep with Miss Lyon. To my surprise she said nothing to me on religious subjects, but told me various ways of going to sleep if inclined to be wakeful, and I think I told her of my mother's way. Even in so simple a matter, I think now how wise she was. The next day several of us were standing in the new seminary hall, scarcely knowing what to do with ourselves, when Miss Lyon entered in her quick way. How matronly she looked with her full figure, her cap, her rosy face, and her eyes beaming with delight and affection as she looked around on her daughters.
"She came to ask - would we like to help make the carpet for this
floor? It lay there ready cut. She told us how she had succeeded beyond
her hopes in getting the addition to the building, and then came this carpet,
an unexpected gift. It was like a mother talking to her girls, of whose
co-operation she was perfectly sure. With one accord we went to our rooms
for thimbles and needles, and with good heart worked upon the carpet. I
was the youngest in school and being undisciplined was continually though
unintentionally giving her trouble. Many times she sent for me. I generally
came from those private talks with tears in my eyes, and the feeling -
'I will never, never disappoint Miss Lyon again.' But the same thing happened
time after time. In the long vacation I seemed to gather strength, and
in the second year in the midst of a talk to the school she alluded to
the difficulties of the new scholars, and said if they would persevere,
things would grow easy; great changes for the better often took place,
and the second year would develop character. I scarcely know the words
she used, but her eyes rested on me with such a look that I thought were
I in heaven and she should look at me so, I could ask for nothing more.
This perhaps shows how youthful I was, but I still love to remember that
look. She often had it - a look of all embracing love. I did not understand
it then; I know
now that nothing but the overflowing of a great heart could produce it. When we were helping Miss Fiske in her outfit for Persia, Miss Lyon said to me, 'I want you to be fitted for as good and as great a work as to go on a mission.' This seed thought has never left me, but has inspired the aim to do my work as faithfully as if it were the work of a missionary. A few years afterward I visited the seminary with a friend. Miss Lyon received us like a mother, and with all her cares, came to our room at night to see if we had all the things we needed. This unusual kindliness was not confined to her pupils. Dr. Brooks said that she once requested him to conciliate some who, not through any fault of hers, were prejudiced against the seminary, and added, that if they could have heard the kind feelings she expressed toward them, they could not have retained their prejudice."
"Through the more than forty years of an extremely busy life since graduation I have felt Miss Lyon's personal. influence; often in conscious recollection, oftener in the force of some principle which she inculcated. For instance: 'There is a best way to do everything.' Her comment was, 'Study to learn the best way and then practice it. It pays to do the smallest things in the best way. Why, there is a best way to fold an apron!' And even now I seldom fold an apron but her words come back to me."
"One great principle which she inculcated was the subordination
of individual inclinations to the welfare of the community. It made it
easy to observe rules. Minor inconveniences were more than balanced by
the habit of exalting the general good above our private preferences. But
beyond this was that noblest of all lessons, self-sacrifice. By precept,
by example, and by occasions for their practice, the Christian duty and
the value of self-sacrifice were impressed upon us. The remark, 'We must
always consider the good of the whole,' was repeated so often that it became
a proverb. Yet we knew that in the yearnings of that great heart not a
single one of us was ever lost sight of."
Many have thought Miss Lyon must have been too much occupied with great things to take interest in minutiae., but while she was devoting six hours a day to bearing recitations, conducting the morning devotional exercise, and the general business of the afternoon, besides attending to the individual wants of one hundred and thirty pupils, she found time to understand the spiritual needs of every one of her charge. How lovingly and tenderly she led us to Christ! And if any one was in trouble she went directly to Miss Lyon, and her great motherly heart entered into our trials just as if she bad nothing else to think of. For the motherless and unfortunate she had particular sympathy."
"In the discouragement of new experiences I was at my work one day in the domestic hall when Miss Lyon's beaming face appeared at the door. She probably saw at a glance how matters stood, and almost before I knew it she was at my side. That such a busy woman should stop to comfort a lonely, homesick school girl gave me a deep impression - which grew deeper the longer I knew her - of her kindly sympathy and interest in individuals."
"One incident comes to mind. I regretted it much at the time, but
have since been glad that it occurred. In my junior year I was one of a
quartette bound together in school-girl friendship. We were not intentionally
naughty, but Miss Lyon called us her wayward children. Her keen insight
into character saw something from which she inferred that our mutual influence
for another year would not be for our good; and at the close of school
she told us in her own peculiar way, that she did not think it would be
best for more than two of us to return, and that she would write us her
decision. Those words of reproof are among my dearest memories, and the
look of yearning love, the hand placed caressingly on my head, will never
be forgotten. We went to our homes. The letters followed. Her kind heart
could not bear to discriminate, and she bade us all return, but gave us
her views about our continued
intimacy. That letter is among my choicest treasures. Two of us returned to pass one more year under her guidance, and graduate the next. The others declined the implied conditions. In the light of mature experience, I, for one, have never doubted the wisdom of her advice."
"December 14, 1848. - Miss Lyon's theme this afternoon was mutual influence. She had noticed a few whose influence over each other was not the most desirable, and said she should probably speak to them individually. She illustrated from chemistry. Some of the rankest poisons are made by the union of the most valuable and inoffensive elements, as, for instance, oxygen and nitrogen. So some young ladies, who were harmless oxygen and nitrogen by themselves, if brought together would make nicotine or strychnine."
"As a teacher she filled her classes with her own enthusiasm. If a young teacher had not learned how to awaken interest in a study, let Miss Lyon appear before the class, and straightway there was infused into it such delight in that subject, that it would become the topic of conversation at all times. Her thoroughness was equally marked, and her way of making us grasp general features. In history, for example, she did not aim so much to teach details as to show us how to pass along the great highway of time, and note the chief events, their connection and their dates, and by repeated reviews, so to fix them in mind that they would never escape. That excellent topic system and those frequent reviews, so stamped on my memory what I learned, that it is as fresh in mind now as forty-five years ago. Enthusiastic in every study, she took special delight in natural religion, and when teaching the sciences, never omitted an opportunity for impressing on our minds the power, wisdom, and goodness of God as displayed in his works. All instruction was made tributary to divine teachings."
pertinent: "Next to religious interests Miss Lyon was distinguished for the thoroughness of her instructions. She delighted in developing principles and hence led her pupils with keen relish even into the dry details of grammar. She had great versatility, and in whatever department of literature or science she was engaged, especially in the latter, an observer would suppose that to be her favorite pursuit. It seemed to make little difference whether it were physical, mental, or theological science, for all these she taught almost equally well. But perhaps the two subjects in which she most excelled, were chemistry and Butler's Analogy, subjects usually thought to demand talents of quite a different order. In almost all her schools she lectured on chemistry and performed the experiments with success. Those who attended the public examinations at the seminary, must have noted the thoroughness of her instructions. On one of these occasions, we overheard one college president ask another on the platform, 'How is it that these young ladies recite in Butler so much better than our senior classes?' 'I do not know,' was the reply, ‘unless it be that they have been better taught."'
"Her knowledge of human nature led her to adopt 'notes of criticism' as a way to remedy many little defects. They served also to bring to light any wrong-doing and were very efficient in her hands in training us in the little amenities of life. Criticisms of table manners - never of persons - were included. Her peculiar manner of reading them was often enough, but if the offense was repeated, her ludicrous - not bitter - sarcasm never failed to effect a cure. Would that all young ladies had teachers gifted with like power to drive away slang and unladylike manners."
"December 14, 1847. - At our family meeting this afternoon Miss
Lyon's subject was the duty of preserving health. The theme was suggested
by one of the notes of criticism, 'wearing thin shoes and cotton hose.'
She spoke of the inclemency of New England winters,
and of the necessity of additional clothing. She said that women now are less able to bear fatigue or exposure than those of twenty years ago, but that all members of this school are expected to have maturity of character and moral principle enough to do right, without a formal command. If they have not, they should by all means go to a school for younger persons, where they could receive the peculiar care needed by little girls. As she pursued the subject her vivacity increased and she said: ‘There are two things, young ladies, that we expressly say you must not do here. One is, that you must not violate the fire laws (alluding to regulations of the family in regard to fire); the other is, that you must not kill yourselves. If you will persist in killing yourselves by reckless exposure, we think by all means it would be better for you to go home and die in the arms of your dear mothers.' She said such exposures were a direct violation of two commands, 'Thou shalt not kill,' and 'Thou shalt not steal'; for a violation of the first robbed the world of the good they ought to accomplish in it."
"There is not a day of my life in which I do not recall those afternoon exercises. My increasing experience of life increases my admiration both of Miss Lyon's ability to select topics, and her power to make permanent impressions. She entered into those exercises with so much heart that one might think that there could be no thought left for the evening meeting. But she could turn from one to the other with perfect ease because always done in the service of the same Master."
"If any domestic duty was neglected she had such a pleasant way
of making one thoroughly ashamed, that the fault would never be repeated.
I distinctly remember one lesson on order. Having finished my work for
the day, I had just reached my room in the fourth story one morning, when
this message was sent to me: 'Miss Lyon wishes to see you below.' On meeting
her she very quietly said, 'Miss --, you have left your
dish-towel on the table.' It was put in place and I never forgot it again."
"Miss Lyon succeeded in correcting tardy habits. Who can forget how we stood by our chairs at table, till the last loiterer was in her place! and as we heard the distant footsteps drawing nearer, who was not glad that she was not the one upon whom all eyes were fixed. If Miss Lyon's discerning eye saw in the delinquent, one who had repeatedly been late, her words were something like these: 'One minute lost by ninety persons, makes ninety minutes gone forever.’"
"She had great power in communicating her own convictions. She knew how to set in motion a current which made individual opposition as powerless as chaff before the whirlwind. With consummate skill, yet apparently with ease, she moved her pupils as she chose. She certainly secured general co-operation in her plans for the school. On one occasion a leader in the senior class was summoned home by a sudden death in her family. The sympathy of the whole class was awakened. On the day she left, they decided to attend devotional exercises in black dresses and trimmings. The fifteen minutes preceding were spent by all the classes in practicing calisthenics. While they were thus engaged word of the plan to appear in mourning reached Miss Lyon. Messengers were instantly dispatched to the teachers in charge, to request the members of the senior class to come at once to her room. In a few words she convinced them that there were serious objections to their plan, - that it was unwise; a few minutes were given them to change their attire, the bell was a little delayed, when all appeared in dress that did not distract and so disturb the exercises. She felt that sobriety of manner was better there than mourning display."
"Possibly her cap was slightly displaced sometimes. So might have
been Joshua's helmet when he was taking Jericho. And though, as has been
said, 'her great soul was unconscious of her body save as it was crowded
for want of room,' she was not indifferent to personal appearance.
Her instruction in regard to dress was: 'It should be such as to please God, not laying aside taste, for is he not much more pleased when his children look well than otherwise? I have no idea Christ was negligent of his dress. His garment was one counted worthy of casting lots upon. Taste should be made a matter of practical education. Self-respect is promoted by proper attention to dress.' 'There should be a due correspondence between what we spend on ourselves, and what we give to God. By this rule we should not buy a twenty-five dollar shawl and make a twenty-five cent contribution.’"
"Miss Lyon was careful about establishing precedents. I went to her once with a question of right. I hoped I had become a Christian. My mother was sick at home, and waiting anxiously to hear from me. I said to Miss Lyon, 'Shall I write on the Sabbath?" She replied, 'Can you not write Monday morning before the mail goes?' 'No; I have a lesson in logic at eight o'clock.' After. a moment she said, 'I will excuse you from your lesson.' It was a little matter, but it settled the question of letter-writing on the Sabbath from then till now."
"The characteristic of Mount Holyoke teaching seems to me to be
its training for usefulness. 'Live to do good' - was the motto. 'Make personal
sacrifices for this end.' 'I want you all to teach,' said Miss Lyon, ‘if
it is only your little brothers and sisters. I do not think a lady is educated
till she has had some experience in teaching children. It is a valuable
preparation for influence. In no other way can the principles of the human
mind and heart be so well learned. If you do not succeed at first, teach
till you do succeed. Prepare thoroughly for every exercise and for every
recitation, but study the minds and hearts of your children more than any
book. I do not expect many of you to give your lives to teaching; but she
who can control the
minds of the young happily and rightly, is all the better prepared for any sphere. But never expect to govern others till you govern yourself.' 'Do not say, "I would like to take a few music scholars, or assist in an academy." Take hold where no one else will.' 'And never teach immortal minds for money. If your object is money making, be milliners or dress-makers; teaching is a sacred employment.' 'Think of its influence even in this life. The teaching of the children decides the destiny of the nation. It is not necessary to meddle with politics. Educate women and men will be educated. Let all women understand the great doctrine of seeking the greatest good., of loving their neighbors as themselves, let them indoctrinate their sons in these fundamental truths, and we shall have wise legislators. All our statesmen, rulers, ministers, and missionaries must come under the molding hand of mothers and teachers.’ ‘It is important to be prepared to be good mothers; you can then easily become good teachers, and will in any ease be good members of society. It will no longer appear a matter for which no previous training is needed.’"
"No part of our education was for selfish ends. To have and not to impart was to be a miser. The intellect was not placed above the heart. The development of all that is beautiful in moral and spiritual life was put before mere intellectual acquisition. Is not this different from the modern college idea?"
"In the Butler class she spoke one day of the text, 'The secret
of the Lord is with them that f ear him.' Girls have many secrets with
their intimates. The grandeur of being admitted to intimacy with the King
of kings was made overpowering. In that class also she referred one day
to our highest aims and hopes, saying, 'Some of you desire to be first-class
teachers others would be cherished wives; but, young ladies, if you are
God's children, and his glory fails to be your highest aim, in that other
ambition you will be disappointed.' The experience of nearly fifty years
verifies her words."
In the third year of the seminary, Miss Lyon watched the progress of a slow fever, expecting the pupil's recovery, but saw at last that she must die. Wearied and worn she left her for a time, and asked me to call her if a change occurred, saying, 'When Jesus comes for one of my dear children, I want to go with her just as far as I can. I do not expect to pass over with our dear friend, but perhaps the Lord will give me a word to comfort her, and it may be that as I see heaven open I shall get a new view of its blessedness to give to those who remain.' It was midnight when I called her. The eye of the dying one kindled brightly at her approach. Kneeling by her side and taking her hand, she said in her gentlest manner, 'Jesus has come for you, Adaline; you will not be afraid, will you? He will carry you safely over. You have nothing to do but to look directly to him. You will suffer only a little longer.' Then she prayed in words as simple as those she had spoken; and in the smile we saw on speechless lips we read the comfort given. In all the years since that November night, I have thanked God for the lesson I learned then - to speak only of Jesus to those for whom he is waiting."
Referring to the same event, another writes: "An incident comes
to mind which illustrates the power of a few words from our beloved teacher.
During the first few weeks of the year when the entering class was being
examined, and when the home longings were fresh in our hearts, one of our
number had died. Her soul was at peace with God, but her disease was particularly
distressing, and produced great depression. I, for one, felt it terrible
to be alone, and shuddered to pass the room so lately the scene of suffering.
When we assembled in the hall, Miss Lyon's subject was the privileges of
the Christian in life and in death; and she made it appear a blessed privilege
to be a child of God in this life however short. When she spoke of the
trying illness, the sudden summons, and the desolate home circle, death
seemed full of dread. But when with radiant
face she told of the release from sin and sorrow, the safety from temptation, the full assurance of a Saviour's love, and perfect bliss throughout eternity, - our spirits seemed all ready to enter upon the joys depicted. My dread was gone. That room of death seemed but the ante-room where the freed spirit had paused a moment before entering in to be with Jesus and behold his glory."
"One night I went from her meeting with the new converts, to help her in arranging for breakfast. Both were thinking of those great themes, and little was said. Stopping in the midst of our work, her face lighted with heavenly radiance, she exclaimed, 'Glorious salvation! Isn't it, - glorious salvation!' Her shining face and rapturous tones are present as though it were yesterday instead of thirty-seven years ago."
"But at morning devotions the intense convictions which were her greatest power, were most apparent. It was there that she impressed upon us the power of littles, little habits, little sins, little indulgences, transient thoughts, - the thousand and one things included in development of character. 'Young ladies,' said she, ‘remember if you are God's children, your life, every hour of it, must be a life of care lest you sin against him.' That word 'care' coming from her lips - how heavy it sounded, full-freighted with responsibility! "
"The bright sunlight streams into the seminary hall on an October
morning in 1845. Two hundred girls look expectant toward the platform with
its row of teachers, as Miss Lyon walks rapidly in and takes the central
seat. A snow-white cap keeps in order those auburn locks. The simple print
dress is relieved by a plain linen collar. But who thinks of her dress?
She has just been in communion with God and the light lingers in her face.
With eyes full of a mother's tenderness she looks upon us a moment before
her hearty 'Good morning, young ladies!' which we rise to receive. Her
reading of the most familiar hymn gives it new meaning and beauty. She
wishes us all-like the great
family in heaven - to praise God in singing. When she reads to us it always seems to me there are treasures in her Bible that were left out of mine. Her scripture readings are illuminated as well as illustrated. Searching with her either the Old Testament or the New, we learn that Christ is found on every page of both. After prayer we go to our rooms with a new sense of a personal Saviour walking by our side.
"Later we see a model New England housekeeper seated on the little platform of the domestic hall, surrounded by the new scholars. She quickly ascertains the aptitudes of each, and assigns accordingly. Divining the capacity of those who know nothing of work, she makes each feel assured of her ability to do whatever is laid upon her. To me there is more power in this, than in her wonderful exegesis.
"Now we meet in the seminary hall for the general exercise of the afternoon. Several months have wrought improvement in all, but a subtle consciousness that not all is as it should be with some, possesses Miss Lyon. Her habitually sunny f ace is serious now. Her theme is wrong-doing. Eager, upturned faces give inspiration to her words. While she talks she notes here a drooping eyelid, - there a face flushes under her gaze. The secrets of those hearts will soon be known to her, for a call to her parlor, over whose portal might be written, 'leave concealment behind,' and her kind, faithful exhortation will unlock the inner chambers of thought."
"Her energetic way of saying the most common things constrained
us to attend. Her tones, always natural, varied with her thought. Many
a pupil could imitate her in saying, 'You won't do so again, will you,
dear?' But in the reading of a hymn or in speaking of eternal themes, her
voice - low and reverent - had a pathos which could not be imitated, nor
forgotten. In the lighter topics of her afternoon talks, it took a wider
range. In a gleeful mood, quite natural with her, her tones would fairly
dance, and her merry speech and laugh would send waves of laughter through
"It was a privilege to stay on a week with Miss Lyon after the close of the year. These occasions brought her quite familiarly near. I sometimes contrasted the light-hearted manner of those days, with her solemn bearing just before the meeting with the impenitent. She had asked me to be responsible that the little table for her Bible should be in place. It seemed like getting near the Holy of Holies, to enter her room at these times-for her soulful countenance reflected the result of the preparation hour. Sometimes a word of benediction fell upon me; but usually she was then too weighed down by a sense of responsibility to allow many words."
"Her morning addresses were the crown of all her other efforts; they were very tender and powerful presentations of Divine truth. Her look as she sat without a gesture, her hand laid devoutly on her well-worn Bible, was not produced by the inspiration of mighty thoughts simply, but by a profound realization of spiritual things. We felt that she came to us from sitting at the feet of the great Teacher, with a fresh baptism of his spirit, and a fresh message for us from him. She seemed at times to dwell in sight of the glories to be revealed. What she spoke of was reality to her, and hence her words had indescribable power."
"She said little by way of entreaty. Sometimes she would lift the
veil and give us a glance into the Holy of Holies. When the soul was enraptured
with its glories, she would turn and say effectively: 'But there will be
no vacant seat there. If any one chooses to turn away from Christ, to separate
from her Christian friends, her absence will not be felt in that happy
throng. Heaven will be full without her.' She would carry the soul on into
the unending future, and describe its ever-increasing susceptibilities
for joy or pain, as if she had herself been through it all. It was not
the words nor the manner nor the thoughts, but the whole effect, which
was wonderful. It was the conception she gave us of the truth. With a sense
of present reality,
we felt that a thousand years hence we should remember as but yesterday, sitting on those seats and accepting or refusing these offers of mercy. Thus she worked her way down to the depths of the soul and planted seeds to germinate and yield fruit in after life."
Our note books convey little more than hints of her power, for that lay in her earnest spirituality, and the notes seem like dry bones."
"Her prayers were short and direct; simple yet comprehensive; the soul's sincere desires indited by the Holy Spirit."
"She always came from her closet to the hall for morning worship with her cherished Bible on her arm, or in her band, with one finger between the leaves where she was about to open to us the Scriptures. We sang from Nettleton's Village Hymns. As the number was named we could see the glance of an eye that would know whether all had brought their books. If some had forgotten, she said nothing then, but perhaps in the afternoon she would ask us to read Deuteronomy and note the words 'remember,' 'observe,' 'take heed,' and see how God regards forgetfulness. Some of us then first realized that it may be a sin to forget."
"That old octavo Bible, with Scott's references, had been her companion
from the beginning of her teaching in Buckland. At the time of her death
it was in its third binding. She used to say she did not know what she
should do when it needed a new dress, for the margin was already too narrow
to admit of another trimming. She did not know that there was another with
the same references in the United States; she had tried in vain to obtain
one; one publisher had given encouragement of republishing it, but if he
did not, she thought that When this was past use she should have to send
to England for one of the same kind. Before that time came she had entered
upon the glories it had revealed. We used to think if she should ever lay
it aside for another, we should all esteem the old one a treasure. I am
glad to know it has a place in Williston Hall."
It would almost seem that the writer of the following, though unaware of what others had written, had designed to recapitulate the preceding quotations.
"Some who have only heard of Miss Lyon as a woman of rare gifts and piety, have an idea that she was cold, distant, or sanctimonious. Nothing could be more untrue. In her natural temperament there was an overflow of animal spirits. But this was consecrated, and made to do good service in climbing many a Hill Difficulty in her life-journey. She was uniformly cheerful, often sprightly and vivacious. In the darkest day her motto was 'Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him.' Some think that she was lacking in refinement. So far from that being true, - as Dr. Brooks, her physician, has truly said, - 'she was unusually refined; only her refinement was not acquired, but a part of her being, that grew with the growth of her other virtues.'
"We also think that Miss Lyon's personal appearance has been misrepresented.
Her portraits all seem to us caricatures. She could not be shown on canvas.
Her complexion was pure pink and white, - her eyes a clear blue, her hair
a lovely shade of light brown, which waved over her forehead and temples.
Beauty as well as strength dwelt in the sanctuary of her face. Sometimes
we saw more of the strength, sometimes more of the beauty. Her countenance
was a transparent mirror which reflected every shade of feeling. So perfect
however was her self-poise, that she never exhibited petulance or anger.
We saw her once under circumstances of great provocation. Tears stood in
her eyes, but they never flashed with resentment. We have seen her look
tired and grieved, never provoked. To watch her when worn with anxiety
and labor, was to pronounce her face uninteresting, but it was quite another
thing when matters of moment demanded prompt attention: as when consulting
with Deacon Porter and the carpenters, surrounded by the timbers, rafters,
and beams of the new building (in 1842). We noticed the same
expression at the beginning of a ‘new series’ of studies, as she
solved the complications that would now and then occur in the adjustment
of the domestic and literary departments. These two must not collide. They
never did. If a young lady recited in history at ten o'clock, she could
have no work at that hour. Occasionally there seemed a tangle. With haste
Miss Lyon would leave the platform and walk to the floor of the seminary
hall. One arm might be slightly akimbo, one finger placed over her lips.
Possibly her cap might be a little awry, although usually her dress was
faultless. With dispatch she would call up the different classes. 'Miss
Whitman, Miss Moore, please take these names.' Then as by magic, all the
machinery would be adjusted smoothly for the next six weeks. Miss Lyon
would quietly resume her seat, and perhaps proceed in her unique manner
to correct some household evil. At one time she started off with a short
talk on comparative anatomy. The naturalist, from one bone or one tooth,
knows the entire animal and tells us whether it ate grass or flesh. So,
single deeds indicate character. If a person does or fails to do some little
thing, the whole nature is revealed. If Domitian would amuse himself by
catching flies and piercing them with a bodkin, it was to be expected that
he would kill Christians. One illustration followed another. The great
principle was developed in a masterly way. It was so far an able disquisition,
but we knew there was something practical to follow. It came at length.
The descent was easy; it was also solemn. It seemed that much to Miss Lyon's
satisfaction the ironing-room had been nicely refitted. But upon its first
use the white sheets had been sadly discolored. Some showed the imprint
of the iron, others had even been burned through. Miss Lyon did not care
bo much for the spoiling of the goods. She could take that joyfully. But
it pained her that any of her dear family should evince a carelessness
akin to recklessness. It was moral tarnish. It might be a straw but it
showed the way of the wind. The lesson
was effectual. Those words on character shown by little things, made many a heedless girl considerate and wise.
"In conversation with friends, Miss Lyon's face was very beautiful. So it was wont to be in her afternoon lectures. Her voice was sweet and strong. She was fluent but not flippant. Her sentences were well rounded. Many of her words had in them the weight of a talent. She was often jocose. She could use satire, though this was rare and only when the occasion required it.
"But how radiant was the face of our teacher when she opened to us the Scriptures! Then it shone like that of the man of God when he came down from the mount. She culled gems from the Mosaic ritual and pearls from the hard names in Chronicles; from David, and Isaiah, Hosea, and the Apostles she brought forth treasures new and old; so, ‘beginning at Moses and all the prophets, she expounded to us in all the Scriptures the things concerning’ Jesus Christ. And our hearts burned within us.
"We have often attempted to analyze the secret of her influence
over us. She had great mental resources. No one could resist the impression
that these were deeper and richer than we had fathomed. But the sense of
her reserve power was not the key. One element was her deep interest in
her pupils. She was not demonstrative in her affection. But as her beaming
face looked down upon us, as those speaking eyes met ours, every one, even
the most refractory, felt that she sought our highest good, and more, that
she loved us after the manner of our mothers. Miss Lyon's was the warm,
glowing, motherly heart for every scholar in the school. No matter how
many they were, the names of all, and especially of those out of Christ,
were graven on her bands. Another element of this ability to influence,
was the honesty and intensity of her convictions. Still another, was her
utter unconsciousness of self. Her great thoughts stood foremost, while
was hidden behind them. Her scholars sat in those seats before her and were not simply swayed as the trees of the wood; they were molded over, changed radically and permanently in habits and character. She was a mighty moral architect. As she spoke, the old would crumble, the rubbish be removed, solid foundations be laid, and a comely edifice begin to rise. The Holy Spirit wrought this spiritual rebuilding. She was in communion with him, ever relying on his aid. In prayer was the hiding of her power. She asked what she would, and it was done unto her."
"The Lord raised up Miss Lyon for an important work. That work she nobly accomplished, and entered into rest. Then to him let us give all the glory; and yet even Christ himself said that the devotion of the woman who poured the ointment on his head should be told for a memorial of her wherever his gospel should be preached."
[END OF CHAPTER IX]