On this day in 1851, James Fenimore Cooper, prolific American writer, died. He was more popular in England than in the United States. Frances Rolleston was certainly familiar with his work. In 1847 she was looking for the woman who had borrowed Prairie and Water Witch to return them to her.
Cooper had joined the merchant marine at age 17, and soon after became a sailor with the United States Navy. He wrote a history of the Navy and other nonfiction books on that subject, as well as some novels about sea life.
Frances recommended Jack Tier—"Captain Spike" she called it—to a friend for her son, John. It "would give him an idea of the sufferings of a sea life," she said. Perhaps the child's mother was concerned because John had already voiced a desire to make his living by going to sea.
Frances further recommended any and all of Cooper's books as "safe." By "safe" I suppose she meant that they were suitable for a young boy being reared as a Christian, so that his mind would remain pure, for Frances goes on to give suggestions to the mother for training her boy to keep the Sabbath.
June 20th, 1851
"I do not expect you to be able to continue your 'visiting,' nor do I think it the right work for a mother."
Frances Rolleston is the older woman advising a young mother. Even though Frances was never a mother herself, she knows that her young friend will soon wear herself out if she tries to keep on with the burden that has been laid on her by the ladies of her church. She knows that the "visiting" is held up as a duty, that is, guilt is probably employed. And when this young mother no longer can keep it up, she needs to hear . . .
"So when you feel you cannot do it, do not think of yourself as lost or reprobate."
Edith is worried that she may be wrong to feel her children are more important than the church work. (Who put that idea into her head?)
"And do not torment yourself about 'idolizing' your children; they do not stand between you and God, that makes an idol. Your passion for your children is in the law of nature; God made the mother's heart such. Like other passions it will have its woes, but it is right and natural, and I doubt not will eventually be a great blessing to the objects of it."
Now Frances gives Edith a practical reason for not going out visiting, and calls on the children's nurse to confirm it.
"I dread your bringing infectious diseases in your clothes to the children when at home."
She explains the motives of those who are pushing her:
"Other ladies will want to make you work to save themselves."
And she has an alternative:
"Let the maids [unmarried women] and widows do it."
In all her experiences of working with women and children, Frances can say, "I never sent young mothers about on any business of the kind, for that reason."