Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

“Miscellanies, Moral and Instructive”

Readers, you have been introduced to MILCAH MARTHA MOORE as the author of a commonplace book into which she transcribed poems and letters by women she admired, a book which circulated among her friends. After the Revolution, Moore, who was a Quaker, published a book that became one of the most popular collections of readings for use in schools, entitled Miscellanies, Moral and Instructive. She included in the Preface Benjamin Franklin’s comment: “A BOOK containing so many well chosen sentiments, and excellent instructions, put into the hands of our children, cannot but be highly useful to the rising generation.” Moore established a school for indigent girls in Montgomery County and taught there until her death in 1829. She left an endowment to the school. Following are a few excerpts from the book.

BEAUTY is a short-lived flower, which is easily withered. A cultivated mind is a treasure which increases every moment; it is a rich soil, which brings forth a hundred fold.

THAT little incendiary, called the tongue, is more venomous than a poisoned arrow; and more killing than a two-edged sword.

THE use of learning is not to procure popular applause, or excite vain admiration; but to make the possessor more virtuous and useful to society, and his virtue a more conspicuous example to those that are illiterate.

WHO is wise? He that learns from every one. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content.

WE often overlook the blessings which are in our possession, to hunt after those which are out of our reach.

Book, published in 1787, digitized by Google from the library of the New York Public Library and uploaded to the Internet Archive by user tpb. It may be viewed HERE. Quoted material can be found on pp. iv, 10, 17, 35, and 50.

posted August 9th, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Education,Franklin, Benjamin,Moore, Milcah Martha,Quakers,Religion

” A Woman’s Glory is to shine unknown”

MILCAH MARTHA MOORE must have thought the following extract from the travel diary of ELIZABETH GRAEME was worth recording, and perhaps pondering it. And no doubt discussing it with friends in her circle. This piece in which Graeme muses on her future life is touching especially when we know what actually happened to her. There is no mention of a man. Graeme was in fact courted by William Franklin, son of Benjamin. He proposed to her and she accepted. But he went to England and met someone there whom he married instead. She met her future husband at one of her “Attic evenings.” Graeme married Henry Hugh Fergusson, eleven years her junior and penniless, without the approval of her father, or the Society of Friends which expelled her.

I know not what my future State of life is to be, but was I to form a Wish it should not be I think Extravagant. I am not particularly attached to any Spot, but while some dear Friends live, I hope it to be in Philad[elphi]a. Health I look to be the Basis on which we found all earthly Blessings—A Conscience void of Offence as to gross Crimes (for as to Faults & Foibles, no Life is unsullied with them), A Society of Friends who Actions are guided by Affection, Chearfulness, Probity & Good-sense—perhaps if I go any further, you will think me unreasonable in Demands, but this writing diverts me, & I will go on.—The Article of Climate I will give up, we must supply the Deficiencies of that by Contrivance, but them Fortune must be favourable to furnish a warm good House in the Winter, & airy pretty Gardens in the Summer—The Garden for many Reasons I cannot give up, I do not wish for a fortune that would not require Oeconomy, he that saves in nothing is a mad man, he that saves in all Things a Fool—every Person has some particular Taste to gratify which others whose Turns do not lay the same way call Whims & Singularity, but the indulging these Whims & Singularitys, frequently constitute the greatest Pleasure of our Lives, & while they incommode nobody, are not to be restrained.—The Command of our Time is a pleasing Circumstance, but that depends so much on the Station we are placed in, that I dare not make it a Preliminary, however, our Sex have a greater Chance of obtaining it as the Public has no Demands on us, it is the noble Lordly Creature Man, whose Heart must glow, & Head toil for his Country for you know some Author says A Woman’s Glory is to shine unknown.

As for the Pleasure of relieving the distressed, & all that—People as frequently lose the Pleasure, as they obtain the Means, so that I shall say nothing on that Score—If you disapprove my Plan, write a better, in the mean Time I wish you all the above good Things.
31st of May 1765.

Perhaps “the Public has no demands on [women]” as Graeme claims but the demands she made on herself were substantial. She was intelligent and educated (at home), hosted one of the most famous literary salons in Philadelphia, wrote well-crafted petitions to the state of Pennsylvania to recover Graeme Park which had been confiscated as loyalist property, translated classic literature, wrote poetry, and maintained connections with other women.

Her political indiscretions during the Revolution saddened her friends and provided fuel for her enemies. She let herself be used by her loyalist husband Henry to deliver a letter to George Washington urging him to surrender. (Washington expressed his dismay at her involvement.) She also carried an offer of 10,000 guineas to Joseph Reed, an aide to Washington, for his help in obtaining a peace treaty favorable to Britain. When Her loyalist husband went to England she stayed behind to try to regain Graeme Park. She never saw him again. Although Graeme’s reputation was tarnished she continued to write and indeed produced a great body of work, among which was the poem “The Deserted Wife.”

Milcah Martha Moore’s Book: A Commonplace Book from Revolutionary America edited by Catherine La Courreye Blecki and Karen A. Wulf (University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 1997), pp 206-207.

posted August 6th, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: "feme covert",Fergusson, Elizabeth Graeme,Graeme Park,Moore, Milcah Martha

England “where Pleasure in every Shape offers herself”

ELIZABETH GRAEME had enjoyed her visit to England in 1764-65, and when it came time to leave she wrote some thoughts about that country in her journal. MILCAH MARTHA MOORE copied them into her commonplace book.

England like other places has its Sweets & Bitters—to be sure if you have an unlimited Taste for Pleasure, have Health & Fortune, here is the Place, but you must even then, have Moments of Doubt, whether that Indulgence of Desires, is consistent with Candidates & Probationers for Eternity, for my Part I think a moderate Fortune, Health, Peace of Mind, & agreable Connections, may be enjoyed in America—there it is I hope to spend my Days—If I have Health, I shall taste those Blessings, if not, Tranquility, & a Father & Mother’s Bosom is the most fit to repose on.— . . .

Perhaps if I had high Health, Scenes of Pleasure & Disipation might have taken so far Possession of me as to make me regret leaving a Country, where Pleasure in every Shape offers herself, yet not without Alloy, for there are many little Incidents, necessary to make even what appears to be Joy, really so, & I am convinced many an Hour of insipid Langour possesses the Mind that would wish to be thought happy, this you & I have often talked over, as we have sat at the Door of Graeme Park, strolled on the Terrass or watched the Moon that friend to Contemplation, how happy have we been there, & how happy may we be again. . . .

In the next post another “extract” Micah Martha Moore copied from Elizabeth Graeme’s travel journal in which she contemplates what her future holds.

Milcah Martha Moore’s Book: A Commonplace Book from Revolutionary America edited by Catherine La Courreye Blecki and Karen A. Wulf (University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 1997), pp 203-205. Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson’s commonplace book can be examined HERE.The illustration is of GRAEME PARK which welcomes visitors.

posted July 31st, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: England,Fergusson, Elizabeth Graeme,Graeme Park,Moore, Milcah Martha

“one of the finest Sights in the Universe”

In her commonplace book MILCAH MARTHA MOORE transcribed the following passage from the travel journal that ELIZABETH GRAEME (1737-1801) kept in which she describes being at sea and seeing the setting sun. The complete journal has not been found.

Remarks—on the Passage from Phila:a. to Liverpool June 1764.

I could not help observing, that whatever way the Ship moved she appeared to be in the Centre of a Circle, for the Sea seems to be a perfect Circle, surrounded by the Clouds, that look as if they bent down at the Edges to join it, so that our own Eyes form the Horizon, & like Self-Love, we are always placing ourselves in the Middle, where all Things move round us.—I saw the Sun set clear, for the first Time, I was reading Priam’s Petition to Achilles, for the Body of Hector, I think my Eyes were engaged in one of the finest Sights in the Universe, & my Passions, interested in one of the most pathetic that History or Poetry can paint.—

Graeme was reading a passage from the Iliad. When she returned from England she took up residence at the family home, Graeme Park, outside of Philadelphia. A noted hostess she held literary “attic salons” where many noted Philadelphians gathered—she met her husband-to-be, Hugh Henry Fergusson, at one of these. Fergusson worked for the British during the occupation of Philadelphia. When the British evacuated the city he went to England and urged his wife to join him there. But she had inherited Graeme Park when her parents died and was loath to give it up. Unfortunately, according to colonial law of “feme covert,” a wife’s property became her husband’s after their marriage. Because Fergusson was a Loyalist, Graeme Park was confiscated by the Pennsylvania government. After two years of petitioning Elizabeth finally regained the family home in 1781. But the upkeep proved to be such a financial burden that she was obliged to sell. She lived with friends, writing and publishing poetry, translating classical works, and sharing commonplace books with other women. She died in 1801.

Milcah Martha Moore’s Book: A Commonplace Book from Revolutionary America edited by Catherine La Courreye Blecki and Karen A. Wulf (University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 1997), pp 200-201. Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson’s commonplace book can be examined HERE. Note the use of quotation marks for passages she has copied.

posted July 28th, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: "feme covert",Fergusson, Elizabeth Graeme,Loyalists,Moore, Milcah Martha,Ocean Voyages

“Leave me to enjoy the sweet Freedom I love”

I wish I had kept a commonplace book. I could never muster enough discipline or time to do so although there are bits and pieces of things I found interesting—from magazine articles to photos, from odd words to poems, from recipes to DYI columns—scattered here and there in physical notes or on my computer. MILCAH MARTHA MOORE (1740-1829), however, did keep a commonplace book: copying poems she found interesting, letters from friends, items from newspapers and passages from books, usually for her own pleasure, but often with the intention of sharing them with friends or relatives in the Philadelphia area. Poems she copied were frequently by women who had not been able to publish them but who were able to achieve some recognition by having them circulated among women friends.

What follows is a poem titled “To Sophronia” by HANNAH GRIFFITTS (1727-1817), Moore’s second cousin, signing herself “Fidelia.” The name “Sophronia” was often used to refer to an unmarried woman so the title is apt for this poem praising the single life.

I’ve neither Reserve or aversion to Man,
(I assure you Sophronia in jingle)
But to keep my dear Liberty, long as I can,
Is the Reason I chuse to live single,
My Sense, or the Want of it—free you may jest
And censure, dispise, or impeach,
But the Happiness center’d within my own Breast,
Is luckily out of yr. reach.
The Men, (as a Friend) I prefer, I esteem,
And love them as well as I ought
But to fix all my Happiness, solely in Him
Was never my Wish or my Thought,
The cowardly Nymph, you so often reprove,
Is not frighted by Giants* like these,
Leave me to enjoy the sweet Freedom I love
And go marry—as soon as you please.

Fidelia

[Marginal note:]
* The satyrical Sneers thrown on the single Life.—

Illustration: Anonymous manuscript, mid seventeenth century, containing poems by various authors, in various hands. Includes Shakespeare’s second sonnet. James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, found HERE. The poem appears in Milcah Martha Moore’s Book: A Commonplace Book from Revolutionary America edited by Catherine La Courreye Blecki and Karen A. Wulf (University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 1997), pp 173-74.

posted July 23rd, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Griffitts, Hannah,Moore, Milcah Martha,Philadelphia,Poetry,Primary sources

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