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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Mary Lyon

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In less than two months she had raised the thousand; but she wrote Miss Grant, "I do not recollect being so fatigued, even to prostration, as I have been for a few weeks past." She often quoted a remark of Dr. Lyman Beecher's, "The wear and tear of what I cannot do is a great deal more than the wear and tear of what I do." When she became quite worn, her habit was to sleep nearly all the time, for two or three days, till nature repaired the system.

She next went to Amherst, where good Dr. Hitchcock felt as deeply interested for girls as for the boys in his college. One January morning, with the thermometer below zero, three or four hours before sunrise, he and Miss Lyon started on the stage for Worcester. Each was wrapped in a buffalo robe, so that the long ride was not unpleasant. A meeting was to be held, and a decision made as to the location of the seminary, which, at last, was actually to be built. After a long conference, South Hadley was chosen, ten miles south of Amherst.

One by one, good men became interested in the matter, and one true-hearted minister became an agent for the raising of funds. Miss Lyon was also untiring in her solicitations. She spoke before ladies' meetings, and visited those in high station and low. So troubled were her friends about this public work for a woman, that they reasoned with her that it was in better taste to stay at home, and let gentlemen do the work.

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"What do I that is wrong?" she replied. "I ride in the stage coach or cars without an escort. Other ladies do the same. I visit a family where I have been previously invited, and the minister's wife, or some leading woman, calls the ladies together to see me, and I lay our object before them. Is that wrong? I go with Mr. Hawks [the agent], and call on a gentleman of known liberality, at his own house, and converse with him about our enterprise. What harm is there in that? My heart is sick, my soul is pained, with this empty gentility, this genteel nothingness. I am doing a great work. I cannot come down." Pitiful, that so noble a woman should have been hampered by public opinion. How all this has changed! Now, the world and the church gladly welcome the voice, the hand, and the heart of woman in their philanthropic work.

At last, enough money was raised to begin the enterprise, and the corner-stone of Mount Holyoke Seminary was laid, Oct. 3, 1836. "It was a day of deep interest," writes Mary Lyon. "The stones and brick and mortar speak a language which vibrates through my very soul."

"With thankful heart and busy hands she watched the progress of the work. Every detail was under her careful eye. She said: "Had I a thousand lives, I could sacrifice them all in suffering and hardship, for the sake of Mount Holyoke Seminary. Did I possess the greatest fortune, I could readily relinquish it all, and become poor, and more than poor, if its prosperity should demand it."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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