Book Review: A Way Of Duty By Joy Day Buel And Richard Buel, Jr.

989 words - 4 pages

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, "How good it is to feel awake and alive!" In November, she portrayed herself as "Dead, lifeless and blind…" Mary's largest improvement came in the summer of 1772 when she once again received boarder boys from college and some men who attended quarter sessions. This gave her a renewed connection with some of Connecticut's most notorious citizens.
One of her visitors during a quarter sessions was Gold Selleck Silliman, a renowned lawyer and colonel of the colonies' 4th regiment. Mary soon married him and moved to his home in Fairfield.
Their marriage came almost immediately under turmoil. Silliman had been called into military duty at several different locations and thus missed out on several jobs as a lawyer. Although Mary did her best to manage the farm in his absence, it suffered as well. Because of his political position, Silliman was kidnapped by British enemies in May 1779. Despite several appeals to the governor, he was not freed for nearly a year. Once back, Silliman had to be careful as...

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