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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Mary Lyon

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However, Miss Grant had removed to Ipswich, and had urged Miss Lyon to join her, which she did. For six years they taught a large and most successful school. Miss Lyon was singularly happy in her intercourse with the young ladies. She won them to her views, while they scarcely knew that they were being controlled. She would say to them: "Now, young ladies, you are here at great expense. Your board and tuition cost a great deal, and your time ought to be worth more than both; but, in order to get an equivalent for the money and time you are spending, you must be systematic, and that is impossible, unless you have a regular hour for rising.... Persons who run round all day after the half-hour they lost in the morning never accomplish much. You may know them by a rip in the glove, a string pinned to the bonnet, a shawl left on the balustrade, which they had no time to hang up, they were in such a hurry to catch their lost thirty minutes. You will see them opening their books and trying to study at the time of general exercises in school; but it is a fruitless race; they never will overtake their lost half-hour. Good men, from Abraham to Washington, have been early risers." Again, she would say, "Mind, wherever it is found, will secure respect.... Educate the women, and the men will be educated. Let the ladies understand the great doctrine of seeking the greatest good, of loving their neighbors as themselves; let them indoctrinate their children in this fundamental truth, and we shall have wise legislators."

"You won't do so again, will you, dear?" was almost always sure to win a tender response from a pupil.

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She would never allow a scholar to be laughed at. If a teacher spoke jestingly of a scholar's capacity, Miss Lyon would say, "Yes, I know she has a small mind, but we must do the best we can for her."

For nearly sixteen years she had been giving her life to the education of girls. She had saved no money for herself, giving it to her relatives or aiding poor girls in going to school. She was simple in her tastes, the blue cloth dress she generally wore having been spun and woven by herself. A friend tells how, standing before the mirror to tie her bonnet, she said, "Well, I may fail of Heaven, but I shall be very much disappointed if I do--very much disappointed;" and there was no thought of what she was doing with the ribbons.

Miss Lyon was now thirty-three years old. It would be strange indeed if a woman with her bright mind and sunshiny face should not have offers of marriage. One of her best opportunities came, as is often the case, when about thirty, and Miss Lyon could have been made supremely happy by it, but she had in her mind one great purpose, and she felt that she must sacrifice home and love for it. This was the building of a high-grade school or college for women. Had she decided otherwise, there probably would have been no Mount Holyoke Seminary.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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