MISS CHAPIN'S ADMINISTRATION.
While Miss Lyon was planning the seminary she. kept in mind the
brevity of life, and wrote: "Much care will be taken to adopt permanent
principles and mature a system which may outlive its founders. There should
be such a natural division of labor that no department shall require persons
of extraordinary ability. Superior gifts are very convenient, but they
are rare, and any institution that can be carried on only by such persons
would be likely to fall by its own weight. In the proposed seminary there
could be no foundation for strength and perpetuity without such. a system
as could be conducted by persons of suitable qualifications, without extraordinary
gifts." Accordingly she had simplified each department and reduced. its
details to such order that they could be definitely recorded. The results
of experience gave these records increasing value for reference. Her associates
had succeeded in carrying out her plans, but in their view, "superior gifts"
would be required in her
successor. It had often been said that if Miss Lyon should die, the seminary would either be closed or its character changed. To the teachers it seemed as if they could not go on without her. But they loved the seminary too well to desert it in its trying crisis. In a few weeks they were still further weakened by the sudden death of Miss Curtis. Miss Whitman, the associate principal, was taking a six months' vacation for her health, and was in Ohio when she heard of Miss Lyon's death. She set out at once, and was nine days on her way to the seminary, for she was far from being well. Next to Miss Lyon the teachers depended on her. She had entered the seminary in its first year; graduating in the second, she began to teach with the third, and was elected associate principal in the sixth. Since Miss Moore's departure she had been Miss Lyon’s. confidante. On the 18th of April the trustees elected her as principal and appointed as her associate, Miss Sophia D. Hazen, a graduate of 1841, who, after teaching at the seminary for seven years, had received Miss Lyon's promise of a year's leave of absence at the end of the eighth, but in the circumstances consented to accept the appointment for one year. Borne down with an almost crushing sense of the responsibility so unexpectedly thrown upon them, their dependence was in the promise of strength according to their day. And the Lord's strength was made perfect in weakness. Mr. Hawks came to their aid by frequently conducting religious exercises, while all other arrangements went on as Miss Lyon had planned them. And the Holy Spirit was present both with restraining and converting influences. Before the year closed, sixty had begun to rejoice in Christ, and a member of the graduating class wrote soon after, that she gave herself to him during the anniversary exercises in church. The blessings of that summer were a pledge of what the Lord purposed to do in the future.
reluctantly sought release. Miss Hazen left at the end of the year, and not long after joined the Nestorian Mission in Persia, as the wife of Rev. David T. Stoddard.
In her letter of resignation Miss Whitman said: "The experiment of the year has been of great value, proving the excellence of Miss Lyon's plans and that they can be executed by ordinary minds. The teachers are pledged to carry out the principles of the seminary. The applications for the coming year are more numerous than last year, indeed the list is already full."
In the course of the summer over one hundred applications were refused, three hundred having been accepted, making an allowance for fifty failures. But failures were fewer than usual, and two hundred and eighty - a larger number than ever before - came at the opening of 1850-1. Examinations somewhat lessened the number. The spirit of other years was manifest on "moving day," when there were twice as many volunteers for the fourth story as could room there. The next year the school was larger still.
In 1852 one of the older teachers became the principal of a Holyoke offshoot at Tahlequah in the Cherokee Nation.
Some friends of the seminary thought it desirable to place a gentleman at its head. But those who knew it best deprecated such an innovation without greater apparent necessity.
On a cold October day in 1837 a good man from Connecticut sought
for his young daughter admission to the new seminary. Climbing over the
threshold without doorstep, they found Miss Lyon - in her plaid cloak and
green calash - busy directing the workmen. As soon as she was free, she
came and began at once to question the little candidate, who felt herself
looked through and through. "We are full now," said she, rapidly rubbing
her hands as she talked, "but if there should be a vacancy by and by we
will send you word." In February word was sent, "If you can come
at once there is a vacancy for you." It was Friday. On Tuesday she came. Almost the first pupil she met was Miss Whitman, whose kindness to the lonely stranger was the beginning of a life-long friendship between these future principals. The younger was Miss Mary W. Chapin. Her wise father was in no haste to have her graduate. He chose rather that she should add to her course the study of Latin, which she began a few months after entering. Miss Whitman's father was a man of similar breadth of view. Before her entrance his advice about continuing her studies was, "Do, my daughter, as a hundred years hence you will wish that you bad done."
Miss Chapin had been connected with the seminary nearly every year
from the first. Her executive abilities were seen by Miss Lyon, who knew
at once on whom to depend for important service. Successful as a teacher
in class work or in sections, she had also helped Miss Lyon so much in
adjusting complicated arrangements that she became thoroughly familiar
with the details of seminary business. When Miss Whitman and Miss Hazen
left, the main responsibility fell on Miss Chapin. No one better understood
the principles of the seminary or entered more fully into Miss Lyon's spirit.
Whatever Miss Whitman or Miss Lyon may have said about the ability of "ordinary
minds" "without extraordinary gifts" to carry on the Holyoke system, no
one can deny that rare ability is requisite in the principal. The successors
of Miss Lyon have been worthy of her. Delicacy toward the living forbids
full utterance of the esteem that would otherwise be gladly expressed.
In no case could the demand be greater than during the crisis of the first
changes. In August, 1851, and again a twelvemonth later, the trustees recorded
a vote of "thanks to the acting principal and teachers for the satisfactory
manner in which they have conducted the institution the past year, and
request them to carry it on the present year on the same principles." Though
Miss Chapin was the
real leader of that noble band, she shrank so much from responsibility that she would not even appear in the catalogue as acting principal. With a heroism that can be appreciated only by those who know the circumstances, she was caring for the seminary till another could be found. She was so sure that she could not take the place, and so confident that the trustees had the same idea, that she was taken by surprise when they told her November 18, 1852, of her appointment as principal. Quite overwhelmed she again assured them that it was impossible. But they left without further action.
At the same meeting they had made Miss Sophia Spofford, a graduate of 1846, associate principal. On the 23rd, Mr. Hawks announced to the school the two appointments. In the division of labor the morning exercises were taken by Miss Spofford, "on whom," the journal says, "it sometimes seems that Miss Lyon's, mantle has fallen." Another glimpse of her is given by a pupil who writes:-
"The 4th of July, 1854, did not fall on recreation day, and because
it was not thought best to use it as a holiday most of the girls agreed
to wear some badge of mourning through the day. Many of those who did not
care for the holiday were willing to do this, and when the bell called
us to the hall for morning devotions, the desks, bell-ropes, and clock
were draped in black, and a black knot was conspicuous on most left shoulders.
No notice was taken of it then, but when we were gathered for the general
exercise in the afternoon Miss Spofford said it was appropriate that these
emblems of mourning should surround us on this anniversary,- there was
occasion for mourning through all the land; and then she gave such a clear
statement of the aims of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and the dangers that
threatened our whole country, as I believe few women of that day could
have given. We were electrified. It was not only that she was so eloquent,
but she had so ingeniously turned our 'jest to earnest'
that she gave us the impression we were all emphasizing her thought."
In 1855 the state of Miss Spofford's health forced her to resign and her place was filled by the appointment of Miss Emily Jessup, who had been teaching in the seminary since her graduation in 1847.
The anniversary address in 1856, by Rev. Dr. Samuel W. Fisher of Cincinnati, Ohio, alludes to a Mount Holyoke Seminary opened the year before in Oxford, Ohio, and contains the following tribute to both institutions:-
"Mount Holyoke Seminary, revealing in a remarkable degree the practical genius of our country, has attained an influence superior to that of any other institution for woman's education in these United States; an influence not at all the result of accidental circumstances, but springing from the character of those it has sent forth. Its students, as teachers, wives, and mothers, are scattered from Maine to Texas, and everywhere are brilliant jewels that proclaim the richness of the mine whence they came.
"So highly do we value your policy, and so excellent have been its results, that we have transplanted it from the valley of the Connecticut to that of the Ohio. You generously sent us some of your most experienced teachers to assist us in our great work.
"It is a noble thing to have originated that discipline which has
so distinguished this institution. But it was essential to its success,
when transplanted to another soil, that you should send with it those who
thoroughly understood it. We almost doubted whether in our free West, where
youth knows little of domestic restraint, it was possible to realize the
power of this original. That doubt has passed away. You have one daughter
there. Yet it is not in one or two that you will see yourself reflected.
Here and there through all this vast country other institutions like this
will rise, and bless coming generations, until your daughters, bearing
your lineaments, and breathing your spirit, shall vastly multiply your
power for good.
"Nay, more, your scholars entering other institutions will so carry with them the thoroughness of mental discipline here attained, as to spread your influence far beyond seminaries peculiarly your own. For it is the attribute of a great soul to communicate its impulses even to minds little in sympathy with it; and it is the glory of a successful movement to impress its character upon, and quicken with its own life, systems unlike itself. And thus you have inaugurated a new era in woman's education; and even though your peculiar policy be not adopted, your influence will inevitably shape other institutions, and elevate throughout our land the standard of education for woman. And when that time shall come in which the actors of the present are weighed by deeds rather than words, it will be told that here in New England a modest woman originated a policy that spread itself abroad, everywhere elevating her sex, and through educated and pious mothers, strengthening the foundations of the greatest republic in the world. Long after the willow that weeps over her dust shall have decayed, the name of Mary Lyon will flourish among the daughters, not of New England alone, but of a whole great people."
Four years later, the seminary gave up other experienced teachers to open a similar institution in Painesville, Ohio.
In 1858, Miss Chapin was given a year for recuperation, Miss Julia
M. Tolman having been appointed associate principal with Miss Jessup. Seven
of the ten years since her graduation, Miss Tolman bad taught in the seminary.
In 1855 she became principal of the seminary in Willoughby, Ohio, whose
building was burned in 1856. Though in frail health on returning to her
Alma Mater, she entered with enthusiasm into the work. But to the great
regret of all, failing strength compelled her resignation in 1860. For
a time her health improved, and in 1862 she became the wife of Lucius A.
Tolman, of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, whose decease in 1871 was soon
followed by her
own. Rev. Dr. Laurie, her last pastor, described her as "a lady of very quiet manners, thoroughly good, of a sweet disposition, very intelligent in her views of men and things, and a good counselor in practical affairs."
After five years of invaluable service Miss Jessup was given leave of absence for a year, at the end of which she tendered her resignation, but the trustees, earnestly hoping for the restoration of her health, refused to accept it till the end of another year. Even then she was not able to return. Since 1862 she has been teaching in the Western Seminary, Oxford, Ohio, a bright example of patience and usefulness even under the iron hand of disease.
Miss Tolman's successor in 1860 was Miss Catharine Hopkins, who became the only associate principal when Miss Jessup's resignation was accepted in 1862.
After the addition to the building in 1841, rooms on the first floor of the south wing were occupied by the family of Mr. Ira Hyde, who was employed to look after the premises, and purchase supplies for the seminary. In 1844 he was succeeded by Rev. Roswell Hawks. In 1855 Mr. Hawks removed to a house in the village and his rooms were taken by Mr. John H. Chapin., a brother of the principal, who during his stewardship of eleven years never seemed to exhaust his store of expedients for the comfort of the household.
From time to time improvements were made. The ravine between the monument and the seminary was filled up. Between two and three thousand trees were set out along the walks which lead down to the brook behind the seminary. A rustic foot-bridge gave access to the hill beyond. In 1852 pipes were laid from this stream to the main building and hot and cold water was introduced in every story.
The journal notes other matters as follows:-
the workmen, in which we heartily joined when we learned that the last brick of the new wing was laid. This north wing is one hundred and twenty feet by forty, with four stories above the basement; in the latter is to be a chemical lecture room and laboratory and a large ironing room. About half the second story will be occupied by a lecture room for natural philosophy; a 'business room' and a parlor for the principal will be on the same floor; and at the end of the wing wood rooms for each story, and an elevator for wood and baggage, as in the south wing. This addition will also contain fifty private rooms. We have now bad about eight hundred applications for admission next year. In accepting candidates, particular reference has been had to advancement in Latin', in which the standard has been much raised during the last two years."
"September 29, 1853. - Tbe school opens unusually full. Many of the entering class came early and have finished a part of their examinations before the term begins."
"November 30. - A few days before Thanksgiving some of our
benevolent young ladies, observing the worn condition of the carpets in
the large parlors, raised one hundred and sixty dollars among themselves
in one day. Then two of them went to Springfield with Miss Chapin, and
selected a, carpet, with new furniture to match. Tongues now kept time
with busy fingers till the last stitch was taken and the carpet ready for
the floor. No less busy were tongues and fingers when portraits, windows,
and pillars in the seminary hall and parlors were decorated for Thanksgiving,
or when corresponding preparations were proceeding below stairs. Thursday
was well filled. After the public service and the festivities, came preparations
for the evening, when we met in the parlors about one hundred invited guests
from the town. At eight o'clock we repaired to the seminary hall, where
calisthenic classes entertained the company while refreshments
were served. At the close of the evening, devotional exercises were conducted by our pastor, Rev. Mr. Swift."
"December 1 - Mr. Dickinson of Durham, Connecticut, formerly a missionary in Singapore, became interested in our seminary from reading the memoirs of Miss Lyon. He is particularly interested in astronomy. Collecting seven hundred dollars for the purpose, he purchased and gave us a telescope. Its object glass is six inches in diameter and its highest magnifying power four hundred. An observatory twelve feet high, with revolving roof, has been built for it a little north of the monument. The apple trees which would obstruct the view have been cut away. The telescope is now in its place and in use."
"Fall term, 1854. - Come and see the changes. In the seminary hall the dark settees are replaced by longer and lighter ones. Mahogany desks are on the platform. The walls, once white, are now light fawn color. Passing through the north door we find that the space-way leads straight to the north wing. On the right is a new reading room and a library."
"July 30, 1855. - The library room is finished. There are shelves from floor to ceiling on two sides; a gallery with iron railing gives access to the upper ones. On the other walls hang historical charts. Two long tables, covered with black velvet, stand near the center. About half the shelves are vacant notwithstanding fifteen hundred dollars' worth of new books. One thousand dollars' worth are soon to be added. The room is to be open half an hour every evening and each pupil may draw two books', to be kept not longer than two weeks."
The twenty-five hundred dollars just referred to were obtained mainly
in Boston through the efforts of Deacon Safford and Dr. Kirk, one bookseller
giving books to the value of five hundred dollars. The earliest mention
found of books received was made May 3rd of the first year, when the trustees
record a vote of
"thanks to the officers and students of Amherst College for a gift of books, and to Prof. Hitchcock for a gift of minerals." Six years later they authorized an agent to solicit subscriptions to the amount of one thousand dollars for the enlargement of the library. In 1852 they added a small appropriation to a gift of the senior class of '51, but until 1855 the original reading room, twenty feet square, had served as library also. The number of volumes in 1857 was about three, thousand. In 1864 it was voted to throw into one the library and reading room, and to open alcoves which friends of the seminary might fill, giving their names to them if they chose. Thanks were tendered to Dr. Kirk for proposing to fill one alcove. But before any steps were taken to execute this plan, the generous. offer of Mrs. Durant in 1868, resulted in greater enlargement.
In 1856 the seminary was deeply afflicted in the loss of its faithful friend, Deacon Daniel Safford, who after long and severe suffering gently fell asleep in Jesus, February3rd. His last labors for the seminary were in connection with the finishing of the library. His gifts to the first building fund amounted to $4,000, and at the time of his death he was the largest donor to the seminary. But his personal aid for twenty years - like that of Deacon Porter - had been far more valuable than money. The following extracts from a letter by Miss Catharine McKeen are quoted from his memoir:-
"There was always joy in the house when it was announced that Deacon
Safford had come. Sweet are the memories of those evening gatherings when
the teacher's day was done, and as children at home, we passed an hour
with him. With a quick sympathy and delicate playfulness he inquired into
the affairs of the house-wood, water, changes in the building, the wherewith
by which the multitude should be fed, domestic and pecuniary matters generally.
We brought our wants and perplexities and spread them out freely before
him. But sweeter counsel did we
take together on the spiritual welfare of our household. It was this which most deeply interested him, and the simple, earnest expressions of his own dependence on the quickening Spirit often brought us low with him before God."
"His benevolence was not shown in words alone; money and labor were freely given; and for none of his innumerable services or traveling expenses did lie take the least remuneration. From its beginning he assumed the task of making for the seminary its large and frequent purchases of groceries and a variety of other articles. Our tables daily remind us of the generous donor of three hundred silver plated forks. Our library is a monument of his liberality and efforts. He planned and directed the introduction of water into different parts of the building, and repeatedly spent weeks in superintending building or other improvements. Even in his brief visits, he was busy looking about the house and grounds to see what was wanting. Still he never seemed to think that be did any great thing, and it was quite embarrassing to try to thank him for his kindnesses. Little did we think when he promised to bring his minister the next time he came, that when Dr. Kirk should come it would be alone, to speak in commemoration of our departed friend."
The anniversary of 1863 was honored by the presence of the governor,
lieutenant-governor, and staff. They arrived early Thursday morning and
were present at the closing examination and the reading of compositions.
The latter were destined to accomplish more material good than usual. One
was a plea for a gymnasium, earnest, sensible, convincing, by a member
of the graduating class. The reading was scarcely finished when Governor
Andrew was moved to start a subscription, and at the church three hours
later he announced fifteen hundred dollars already subscribed, provided
twice that sum should be raised. Before night the figures reached nineteen
This joy was followed by sorrow before another night. Deacon Porter, who had given his seat in the crowded coach to a lady and was riding outside, was thrown to the ground by a sudden start, and fatal results were feared. But in December he was able to walk with crutches, and came with an architect to plan for the gymnasium. Mrs. Porter came also. Calling for the subscription paper, she wrote "Hannah Porter, $500," saying that it was a thank offering for her husband's recovery. As in each previous case of building, his visits were frequent till the work was done. The south wing was extended east as far as the north wing, and the new structure made to connect with each, thus enclosing a quadrangle. The gymnasium hall was eighty feet by thirty, and nineteen feet high, with trestle roof slightly arching. A gallery was added later. It was heated by steam and the same boiler was made to serve also a new laundry. But the war made it hard to raise funds. In March, 1865, a subscription paper stated that nearly four thousand dollars had been received, but that over twenty thousand dollars more was needed. The list was headed with the names of three of the trustees, A. W. Porter, Abner Kingman, and Samuel Williston, pledging one thousand dollars each, on condition that the twenty thousand should be raised during 1865. The trustees appropriated three 1~undred dollars for apparatus and the hall was ready for use in the summer of 1865, but the new part of the south wing had only floors and stairways until 1867. Meanwhile the slow-coming funds were needed more imperatively elsewhere. In 1865 a water tower in the rear of the main building, but communicating with each story, took all plumbing arrangements out of the building.
Miss Lyon's progressive plans for the course of study were gradually
carried on. Advance in Latin has already been mentioned. In 1852 Miss Catharine
McKeen, a superior Latin teacher, was secured, who accomplished much in
improving that department.
Trigonometry was added to the required course in 1855, and history of literature three years later. Both had been taught before.
There were lecture courses in natural philosophy by Prof. Snell; in chemistry by Prof. Chadbourne; in geology by Dr. Hitchcock; and occasional courses in architecture, history, botany, astronomy, natural history and elocution. In 1860, instruction in anatomy and physiology with use of skeleton and manikin, and lectures in hygiene began to be given by a physician 'resident in the seminary.
Under the admirable direction of Miss Eliza Wilder, who came in 1862, the standard of vocal music was much improved; the entertainments given by her classes on anniversary occasions included selections from the "Creation," the "Messiah," and other works of a high order. Private instruction began then to be provided for those who desired.
In 1861 a fourth year was added to the course, allowing more extended study in each department. Up to that time the entrance examinations had been oral. Since then most of them have been written.
For sixteen years the charge for board and tuition had been but sixty dollars for the school year. In 1854 the increased cost required an advance to sixty-eight dollars, and in 1857 to eighty; war prices in 1862 forced a rise to one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
It is sometimes said that school girls know more of the history
of Greece and Rome than of their own country. However that may be in general,
the daily throngs in the reading room, and the discussions everywhere going
on, indicated intelligent interest in the war. At first all political parties
were represented. In 1860 votes were cast and counted as follows: for Breckinridge,
eight; Bell and Everett, thirteen; Douglas, thirty-two; Lincoln, two hundred
and forty-six. A jubilant procession when Lincoln was elected and an illumination
when lie was re-elected were not the only indications of patriotism. Those
who remained at the
seminary in the vacation just after the attack on Fort Sumter, with
the co-operation of Mr. Chapin, prepared a surprise for the returning family.
It was the sight of the stars and stripes floating in ample folds one hundred
and fifty feet above the seminary grounds. As everywhere else, hopes rose
and fell as those colors hung aloft or at half mast. Needles were used
for more practical purposes than flag-making. Within a week three hundred
"comfort bags" were made and stocked with pins and buttons, threaded needles
and other tokens of thoughtfulness. Into each bag went a little card with
"Mount Holyoke Seminary" on one side and a verse from the Bible on the
other. The letters from camp and hospital that came to "Mount Holyoke Seminary,"
laden with thanks from boys in blue, were a glad surprise. It was a delight
to sew for them, and to knit army socks and mittens was better than fancy
work. The spirit of all was voiced by one who was preparing the lecture
room for the Soldiers' Aid Society, when she said she was g1aJ to help,
if it were only by bringing a chair; and what could be more appropriate
than to spend Thanksgiving evening in the same work, foregoing for once
the pleasure of extending customary hospitalities? And in similar employment
sped the hours of Christmas eve. There were very few in the family who
bad not some near friend in the army and very few to whom there came no
message of sorrow. In the prayer meeting for soldiers there were sometimes
more requests than could be read. Here too working and praying were combined
with giving, and the wants of the army were regarded as second only to
missions. In 1864 the senior class gave to the United States Christian
Commission the nearly two hundred dollars which they would otherwise have
spent upon a class memento. At the suggestion of Mr. Mead, their pastor,
then in the service of the Commission, that they should not graduate without
a badge, Mr. Stuart of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Commission, ordered
at the expense of himself and friends, the
manufacture of scroll-shaped silver pins similar to those worn by the delegates of the Commission, bearing the class motto and name, and inscribed as follows:
Only two or three in the audience knew of the surprise in store for the class when on presentation of the diplomas Mr. Mead called attention to the badge attached to the ribbon of each.
In May, 1862, invitations were sent to all graduates and many other friends, to join in a commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary, July 24. The number of graduates then living was eight hundred and sixty-four; one hundred had died. Three hundred and thirteen, including fifty-eight of the teachers, were present.
The seminary could entertain only about one hundred. The hospitable citizens of South Hadley cared for all the rest. Invitations to the collation on Wednesday were extended to all former pupils, and more than eight hundred were present.
There was an evening prayer meeting during the week in Miss Lyon's last room, and all the bustle of constant arrivals Tuesday night did not prevent a large attendance.
At nine o'clock on Wednesday, graduates gathered in class meetings for an hour and then - every class represented - took their places in the procession, under the direction of Mr. Byron Smith, who on that occasion took for the first time the place of his venerable father, E. T. Smith, Esq. The latter did not live to see another anniversary. Till that time with but one exception, the father had always been marshal of the day at anniversary, as the son has been since then.
presided at the collation. The remainder of the afternoon was occupied with short addresses by Rev. Drs. Laurie, Hawes, Anderson, Hitchcock, and Rev. Messrs. Parish, I. P. Warren, E. Y. Swift, Daniel Tenney, and Mr. Samuel Burnham. At seven o'clock there was a reunion of graduates to hear reports from the different classes, after which the evening was given to a social gathering. A still larger number attended the usual anniversary exercises on the next day. Dr. Kirk's address had carried the thoughts of his audience backward twenty-five years. On this occasion Rev. Dr. R. S. Storrs carried them forward twenty-five years, predicting emancipation for the black man and "the perpetuity and prosperity of the American nation."
[END OF CHAPTER XII]