Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Just in Time for Mother's Day...

This article appeared in 1849 and offers one woman's view of the Canterbury Shaker community. Interestingly, she seems to fixate primarily on what was missing.

Morning Herald
Thursday Morning, July 12, 1849

A Chapter on Babies

Betsy Blake, a pleasant correspondent of the Home Journal has recently paid a visit to the Shakers, where she was well pleased with everything except the absence of babies.
Hear her eloquence and mourn ye bachelors over the blessings ye are deprived of.

“They don’t use any noise excepting Sunday, and for a little while I liked the plan. But oh, Mr. Morris and Willis, if people could live a great while without some noises, say hand organs and crackers, and be very happy, yet think of a beautiful green hill, covered with white houses and perhaps two hundred people in them, and not the sound of a baby! Not a cry, not a laugh, not a crow, not a first “Ma Ma!” Every house shining and clean inside and out, and not the mark of a little soiled hand on the door, or a sign of a baby shoe and stocking on the varnished floor! Oh I couldn’t have stayed a week with those grown up men and women, without feeling that I’d lost something that through a baby keeps us in sight of heaven. To be sure they have forty children there, but the girls are all kept in one house by themselves and the boys in another. Of course there isn’t a baby among them, and then too I wanted them mixed in among the sisters and brethren like leaven to the whole lump. Oh! How I should like to have seen the leaven working in those nice houses that looked as if they kept for a show. But then I don’t know as it would have made much difference, for the children even seem to make no use of noise excepting when they’re singing and dancing in their religious way. I thought if I ever got back to Boston I wouldn’t be tired of noise very soon, but would insist upon being contented even if the babies should all get crying at once.”

She found so many things of an agreeable nature among the Shakers that for a time, she thought life might be tolerable among them. “But all at once,” she says,

“I looked back with my mind to Boston where I’m living with my dear brother Charles for a little while (Charles isn’t a Shaker so he approves of getting married) and there I saw a little crib with a curly head peeping out and a voice like a soft music box crowing for me. Oh! the poetry couldn’t tempt me any more- the naughty world couldn’t be so very naughty while it had “of such is the kingdom of Heaven” in it!

I wish that mothers who get tired of their babies and make dreadful complaints about their noise and pulling things about, would go to Canterbury for a week- I’m sure they’d be cured of their ingratitude and hurry back to them with just such delight as was felt at sight of two pets of Charley’s by


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Article found using www.fultonhistory.com newspaper archive