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Book Review: A Way Of Duty by Joy Day Buel and Richard Buel, Jr.

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Joy Day Buel and Richard Buel, Jr., authors of The Way of Duty, describe Mary Fish Silliman by saying "She remained to the end of her life less a daughter of the Revolution than a child of the Puritans". This is proven throughout her life. Despite outside influences and events, Mary continued steadfast in her beliefs as a Puritan. Mary Fish was born into a Puritan world. Her parents, Joseph and Rebecca Fish, raised her using standards that dated back to the Old Plymouth colony. She was taught to remain humble and pious. She learned to hold fast to her beliefs. The events that started autumn 1766 and continued for several years tested Mary's resolve more than any other time. Her sister, Rebecca, had contracted smallpox in November 1766. She passed away soon after. John Noyes, Mary's first husband, had lived with epilepsy longer than the doctors originally expected, but soon he succumbed to death as well. Having her family a distance away, Mary clutched on to John's mother as to a rock. In November 1768, the older Madam Noyes went to bed in good health but was found dead the next morning. For the first time, Mary found herself alone to take on the responsibilities of the household and family head. In May of 1770, Mary's only daughter, then 4 years old, fell ill. She died ten days later. Mary wrote, "I…felt in some measure resigned, knowing that God could give a good reason why he had thus afflicted me." Despite this statement, Mary's spirit was broken and she fell into a depression, feeling that her faith had died with the child. For a long while, Mary oscillated between good and bad days. One day in May 1771, Mary wrote "I mourn that I had no more communication with God…" On a day in September she cried out, "H... ... middle of paper ... ...can Revolution had led the new generation to change the main concentration of their outlook on life from a hopeful look toward eternity to a precise eye for worldly gain. She challenged her sons to not abandon their strict upbringing in the face of the secular influence. One example is when she confronted her eldest son, Jose, when he decided to exercise his right as the oldest and took a double share of the inheritance. She reminded him that although civil law allowed it, God's law required that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Despite the changes in values in America during and after the Revolutionary War, Mary stayed true to her Puritan upbringing. She remained humble and pious until her dying day. She created and maintained her identity in conjunction with her Puritan beliefs as opposed to the Revolutionary period that she lived through.
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