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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Baroness Burdett-Coutts

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When the inhabitants of Girvan, Scotland, were in distress, she advanced a large sum to take all the needy families to Australia. Here in America we talk every now and then of forming societies to help the poor to leave the cities and go West, and too often the matter ends in talk; while here is a woman who forms a society in and of herself, and sends the suffering to any part of the world, expecting no money return on the capital used. To see happy and contented homes grow from our expenditures is such an investment of capital as helps to bring on the millennium.

When the people near Skibbereen, Ireland, were in want, she sent food, and clothing, and fishing-tackle, to enable them to carry on their daily employment of fishing. She supplied the necessary funds for Sir Henry James' topographical survey of Jerusalem, in the endeavor to discover the remains of King Solomon's temple, and offered to restore the ancient aqueduct, to supply the city with water. Deeply interested in art, she has aided many struggling artists. Her homes also contain many valuable pictures.

The heart of the Baroness seems open to distress from every clime. In 1877, when word reached England of the suffering through war of the Bulgarian and Turkish peasantry, she instituted the "Compassion Fund," by which one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in money and stores were sent, and thousands of lives saved from starvation and death. For this generosity the Sultan conferred upon her the Order of Medjidie, the first woman, it is said, who has received this distinction.

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In all this benevolence she has not overlooked the animal creation. She has erected four handsome drinking fountains: one in Victoria Park, one at the entrance to the Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park, one near Columbia Market, and one in the city of Manchester. At the opening of the latter, the citizens gave Lady Burdett-Coutts a most enthusiastic reception. To the unique and interesting home for lost dogs in London, she has contributed very largely. If the poor animals could speak, how would they thank her for a warm bed to lie on, and proper food to eat!

Her private gifts to the poor have been numberless. Her city house, I Stratton Street, Piccadilly, and her country home at Holly Lodge, Highgate, are both well known. When, in 1868, the great Reform procession passed her house, and she was at the window, though half out of sight, says a person who was present, "in one instant a shout was raised. For upwards of two hours and a half the air rang with the reiterated huzzas--huzzas unanimous and heart-felt, as if representing a national sentiment."

At Holly Lodge, which one passes in visiting the grave of George Eliot at Highgate Cemetery, the Baroness makes thousands of persons happy year by year. Now she invites two thousand Belgian volunteers to meet the Prince and Princess of Wales, with some five hundred royal and distinguished guests; now she throws open her beautiful gardens to hundreds of school-children, and lets them play at will under the oak and chestnut trees; and now she entertains at tea all her tenants, numbering about a thousand. So genial and considerate is she that all love her, both rich and poor. She has fine manners and an open, pleasant face.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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