is rich in historic associations.
We have the Old Powder House
, where the ammunition was stored previous to the Revolutionary War
, and Prospect Hill
, where the first flag was raised in 1776.
Great men have walked our country lanes, Washington
, of olden times; Enneking
, the artist, John G. Saxe
, the poet, and Edward Everett
, the preacher, have lived in later days within our borders.
Even the Pundita Ramabai
from the Far East
has paid a flying visit to our city.
No poet, artist, preacher, or historian is so well known among English-speaking people as the subject of this paper, the ‘Mary who had the little lamb.’
It was by no conscious activity on her part that she became famous.
She was one of those rare creatures who have greatness thrust upon them.
Yet she bore her honors meekly.
Mary E. Sawyer
was born in 1806 in the town of Sterling, Mass.
It was through this town that King Philip marched, burning the houses and killing and taking captive the white people.
She graduated from the schools of her native town, and then for a while taught school in Fitchburg
Her love for her little charges made her very popular, but her health failed, and she was obliged to seek a change of occupation.
In 1827 she secured a position in the McLean Asylum
where she remained thirty-five years, the greater part of the time as matron.
In her long career of usefulness she ministered with skill and affection to the sick and unfortunate.
In 1835, while in this institution, she married Columbus Tyler
, who was steward there at the time.
and her husband were among the first founders of the Unitarian Church in this town.
For many years she superintended the infant class in the Sunday School, and also interested herself in the larger work of the denomination.
When Mr. Tyler
resigned from the asylum he built a spacious house on Central Street, and there Mrs. Tyler
dispensed a gracious hospitality.
She was interested in most of the city organizations, particularly the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Woman
's Relief Corps.
On the north side of their house was a wild wood garden.
In it she had every variety of fern and delicate wood flower.
In her summer journeyings, when she saw a rare plant, she secured a specimen for her garden.
Those most difficult of cultivation responded to her care.
She gladly welcomed her little friends in the neighborhood to assist her in her work, and their assistance was not always helpful.
On one occasion she left two little boys of five and six years to amuse themselves with shovel and wheelbarrow while she took a nap. When she came out she found the ferns entirely cleaned from one bed and thrown on the rubbish pile.
Her only rebuke was a gentle: ‘My little dears, you have done a great deal of mischief, but you did not mean it.’
These two boys were Rollin T. Lincoln
and Edward B. Raymond
, who are now married and have children of their own.
Her friends were often the recipients of a beautiful bouquet, arranged with the skill of an artist, and the birthdays of the boys and girls in the neighborhood were always remembered with flowers.
The lonely and bereaved welcomed her sympathetic visits.
Always thinking of others, and never of herself, she lived a life of beneficence and charity, and died lamented by all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance.
She died December 11, 1889, and was buried in Mt. Auburn
The following account of the lamb is from the pen of a cousin, William Brewster Sawyer
, and was published in the Boston Transcript:—
The teacher was Miss Harriet Kimball
, who afterwards became the wife of a Mr. Loring
, and their son was the proprietor of the well-known circulating library in Boston
was the nephew of Rev. Samuel Capen
, who was then settled in Sterling
The day after the lamb's visit to school young Roulston
rode over to the schoolhouse and handed Mary the first three stanzas of the poem:—
Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did appear.
Of its snow-white wool she knitted some stockings, and in 1886, when the patriotic women of Boston
wished to raise money for the preservation of the Old South Meeting-House
, they asked Mrs. Tyler
to assist by giving a pair of these stockings.
She complied with their request.
The stockings were raveled, and bits of the yarn fastened on cards on which she had written her name.
These sold for a hundred dollars. A second pair was raveled, and another large sum was raised.
gave Mary the poem in 1815.
She and her
friends naturally inferred that he was the author of it. No question as to the authorship was raised till in 1829 Mrs. Sarah Josepa
, afterwards editor of Godey
's Monthly, published a volume of poems for children, and included in them were six stanzas, entitled ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’
The additional verses are:—
And then it ran to her, and laid
Its head upon her arm,
As if to say, “I'm not afraid, You'll keep me from all harm.
“What makes the lamb love Mary so?”
The eager children cry;
“Oh, Mary loves the lamb, you know,”
The teacher did reply.
“And you each gentle animal In confidence may bind,
And make them follow at your will,
If you are only kind.
If this was an incident in Mrs. Hale
's life, as some of her friends assert, why doesn't the poem begin with ‘Sarah had a little lamb’?
It has been printed ‘Lucy had a little lamb.’
's friends and Mrs. Hale
's unflinchingly maintain their position.
's cousin, who lives in the same house in which she was born and married, deposed before a notary public that he attended school in the same schoolhouse, and that the facts referring to the incident of the lamb and the poem are true.
Both parties are honorable people, and the reasonable solution is that the verses are so simple that they almost make themselves, and when Mrs. Hale
heard them in her childhood they became a part of her mental furniture, and for a time were forgotten.
In later years memory unconsciously reproduced them as original forms, and she added the other three stanzas, believing that the entire poem was her own.