Ipswich, August 1, 1834
My dear Miss White,
How long, very long it is, since you have written to me or I to you. I can hardly realize, that I should have so little intercourse with those whom I so tenderly love - those whom I once met daily face to face,& with whom I held delightful intercourse from day to day, & sometimes from hour to hour. But it is even so. I have not written to dear Amanda for a great, very great while. How was my soul knit to her soul. Seldom have I loved anyone so much, dear Miss Grant excepted. But we have long been separated - perhaps to meet no more on earth. Long separation breaks up the vividness of affection, but the strength still remains. How delightful will it be to have this affection renewed in heaven. I have too bid dear Miss Grant farewell, no more to live with her on earth. This separation has not severed my heart, but it has so shaken it, as to render it more tenderly alive to all emotions of affection, which has sometimes seemed to lie dormant in my heart. I love more than ever to dwell on those friends who shared the warmth of my love in my younger years.
I suppose you have heard that I was endeavoring to establish a manual
labor school for ladies. I have heard so. But as this is not true, I wish
this mistake could be corrected. I will tell you what I-should be glad
to have done. You know it has become very popular for our highest and best
seminaries for males, to be moderate in the expenses. It is not a recommendation,
sufficient to secure the confidence of any of the Christian public, that
a seminary for males is expensive. But how different it is with regard
to fe-male seminaries. Even at the present time, almost the middle of the
19th century, do not many value our high female seminaries according to
their expenses? Is it not popular, & rather gratifying to young ladies
to attend expensive seminaries when perhaps their brothers would rather
glory in being able to pursue their studies at a moderate expense? Is there
not a general feeling, that female education must be expensive, and those
who cannot bear the expense must do without it? And is not this one reason
why ladies are so much more aristocratic than gentlemen & why their
aristocracy is founded on so much lower and more despicable principles?
Will not the church, with the exception of raising up ministers, suffer
much more, if female education should be confined to a small aristocracy,
than if male education should be: Would it not be a less evil, for the
farmers and mechanics through the land, who are to spend all their time
in laboring to support their families, to have scanty stores of knowledge,
than for their wives who must train up the children to be thus scantily
furnished? I will now tell you what I wish could be done. I wish the same
public interest could be excited to extend female education to the common
walks of life that exists with regard to male education. If the church
would do the same for female education that she has done & is continually
doing for males, the work would be done. O that the church would take our
high[est?] female seminaries under her direct control, protection &
support. And do you not believe this will be done at some future time?
But this cannot be done, unless measures are used to secure the confidence
of common Christians. And if any institution should ask for public support
in any sense would it not be desirable that in some particulars there [word
missing] be some marked features which could be seen & would be approved
by common Christians? On this account, I have thought that it would be
well to have the domestic work done by the members of the school, not as
an essential feature of the institution, but as a mere appendenge [sic].
But this mere appendage ought by no means give the name manual labor to
the plan. I have not the least faith in any of the proposed kinds of manual
labor by which females could support themselves at school - such as raising
silk, attending to grape vines, spinning, sewing, &c. &c. I should
expect that any attempt of the kind would become a bill of expense, rather
than an income to any female seminary. After the acquaintance I have had
with many cultivated & interesting families whose daughters performed
in a systematic manner all their own labor, I have the greatest confidence
that a system might be formed by which all the domestic work of a family
of 100 could be performed by the young ladies themselves, & in most
perfect order, without any sacrifice of improvement in knowledge or refinement.
Might not this simple feature do away much of the
Some of the specific features in the great cause in which I am engaged will seem to some of your friends like new views, different from my former views. Not so new as might seem, they are of no very recent date. The only difference is that I did not consider it expedient, while I was connected with Miss Grant & this institution, to say much about these views. I should be very glad to see you a day or two & talk over this whole subject.
But the object of my writing to you just this time is to enquire whether some of your scholars & friends in Amherst would [cross-writing on end of page 1] not be glad to see Edwards's History of Redemption republished by itself separate from his other works. I been [sic] endeavoring for more than half a year past through Mr. B.B. Edwards to have this done and have been expecting that it would be done. The [cross-writing continued on page 2] publishers do not like to publish these standard works because they do not sell so well as the lighter trash. It is however decided that it can be published provided that 900 subscribers can be obtained & done forthwith before our school closes. I have obtained [cross-writing continued on page 3] quite a number in this school, & want to make out the numbers among my friends because I do not want to have it fail. The price is expected to be 75 cts single and 69 1/2 cts wholesale. Can you obtain a few subscribers among your list of friends.
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Transcript of letter from Mary Lyon to Hannah White, 1834