Archive for the ‘Ambler, Mary Cary’ Category

“the best and truest kind of breeding”

Mary Cary Ambler kept a diary during her trip to Baltimore to have herself and her children inoculated against smallpox. Her stay at Mrs. Chilton’s turned out to be longer than expected. She would have been bored had Mrs. Chilton not given her access to the family library. “A Rainy Day (very dull) if it were not for Books & knitting . . . would be at a great loss how to fill up the Day.” One of the books she read was James Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women (1765)—it was one of the most popular books at that time on women’s conduct. She was so struck by a passage that she copied it into her diary, noting that it was “transcribed for the use of the Copi[e]st & She begs her Daug[hter] to observe it well all her Life.”

If to Your natural softness You join that christian meekness, which I now preach; both together will not fail, with the assistance of proper reflection and friendly advice, to accomplish you in the best and truest kind of breeding. You will not be in danger of putting yourselves forward in company, of contradicting bluntly, of asserting positively, of debating obstinately, of affecting a superiority to any present, of engrossing the discourse, of listening to yourselves with apparent satisfaction, of neglecting what is advanced by others, or of interrupting them without necessity.

Kevin J. Hayes, the author of A Colonial Woman’s Bookshelf from which the above paragraph is taken, notes that women commonly shared books during that period and among them were likely to be “conduct” books, containing advice on how young women should comport themselves. He adds that diaries many women kept were among the books on the shelf in their homes to be consulted and read by family members, in this case, Mary Ambler’s daughter Sarah.

Kevin J. Hayes, A Colonial Woman’s Bookshelf (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1996) pages 58-59.

posted May 18th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Ambler, Mary Cary,Education

“Jack was so scared”

Mary Cary Ambler (1733-1781) was the daughter of Wilson Cary of Virginia. She married Edward Ambler and the couple had two children, John and Sarah. In 1770, Mary traveled from Fauquier County, Virginia, to Baltimore to have herself and her children inoculated against smallpox. She stayed with a Mrs. Chilton and, in the third person, she described the experience in her diary. The first attempts to inoculate failed and the doctor had to send for more serum to Philadelphia.

September 1770

[She] happened to meet with Mrs. Douglas returning from Baltimore in Maryland where She had been with her three children to be Inoculated for the Small Pox. . . . M Ambler inquired how far it was to Baltimore Town . . . she almost determined to carry her Chil[dre]n to that place to be Inoculated by Dr. Stephenson who she was told had Inoc[ulate]d 7000 People with the greatest Success imaginable. . . .

Monday [Sept. 8] This Morng Mrs. Brook, Mr. Lawson, M. Ambler & children went to Balte Town . . . The Dr. came & inoc. M. Ambler & Sally immediat[el]y but Jack was so scared it could not be done effect[ivel]y. . . .

Wednesday [10th] This day Dr. Stephenson came to Examine our arms & found Jacks so little affectd that he Inoculd him again & he manfully bore it. We all still find ourselves very well. . . .

Thursday [11th] This day M Ambler & Sally took Purges which made them very Sick but Jack was at liberty to run about as he took no Pill the preceding night nor any Physick this day. . . .

Sunday [14th] M. Ambler took a purge very sick with it . . . Dear Jack held out his arm for the 3d. Inoculon & never winched. . . .

Wednesday . . . The children very well still & very cheerful. This aftern The Dr. sent his Mr. Hazzlet to inocl us all again. . . .

Monday [Oct 6th]. . . . Jackey had a very high Fever all Night which continues very Smart tho he goes out of one Room into another. . . .

Tuesday [7th] A good day Jackey’s Fever very High . . . his Mother watched him all night. God be thanked several Pocks appears this morning the Fever still High but the greatest Struggle thought to be over. . . .

Saturday [11th] M. Amblers Fever exceedg smart all night but has begun to decline this day a good many Pock out, the pain in the Head has now abated. . . .

Monday [13th] M. Ambler recovers fast has about 25 pock Sally has about 10 & Jack about 17 or 18. Sally and he quite happy & lively.

It took considerable bravery and patience to endure the inoculation procedure as it existed at that time. Happily, the Amblers were counted among the doctor’s successes.

The passage is taken from In the Words of Women, pages 178-79.

posted May 14th, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Ambler, Mary Cary,Children,Health,Inoculation

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