Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 8, 1872

Curtis, Mary

Aledo, Mercer County, Illinois

June 2, 1872

Previously unpublished.

Dear Sister Mary [Curtis]:

I feel anxious in regard to you. I am fearful you will cause Sister Abbey anxiety and care by your careless forgetfulness and your reckless, lawless ways. This we cannot have. If you have not at your age respect enough for yourself to try to improve your habits, it is no use for others to have the burden of you, and they be constantly harassed and perplexed with your course. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 1

It is too bad, Mary. You know how to behave if you will only do as well as you know. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 2

I have talked with you much in regard to correcting some of your habits. First you need to improve in regard to talking so much. Your tongue is in motion so much of the time you have no time or room for thoughts. You should know that nearly all that are acquainted with you think you a hopeless case. They do not hesitate to say, You cannot make anything of Mary. You may talk, and she will regard your words only while you are saying them. She will do just the same in two days after you talked with her. I have found this to be entirely correct, to my sorrow. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 3

Second, I have learned by experience that you are lawlessly free and reckless if you dare to be. You take liberties you should not. You do not consult or ask advice, but move forward on your own responsibility, glad of an opportunity of having your own way. This you will have to correct or be homeless. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 4

Third, you talk for the purpose of amusing others; in short, you make a simpleton of yourself because others are silly enough to laugh at your silly remarks that expose your ignorance and lack of sense. You may make a simpleton or a sensible woman. In order to make the latter you must do as others tell you. If you do not, you will be left without a friend. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 5

I noticed you have a habit of being determined to have your own way, and you are in danger of coming to womanhood undisciplined, with all your bad habits confirmed upon you for life. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 6

Now is the time, Mary, for you to act; to be earnest, sincere, and faithful. I am sorry that things have occurred that have led me to greatly distrust you. I am constantly fearful you will take things not your own and appropriate them to yourself. You take liberties that I cannot have, Mary. Your habit of loving to eat the good things, is a temptation for you to indulge your appetite and choose not to come to the table when others eat. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 7

Now, Mary, we love you too well to let you have your own way. We will lay down some rules for you to heed strictly. If you do not, we can no longer provide a home for you or take any interest in your obtaining an education. If you are determined to go to ruin, you must go. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 8

We now want you to go to the Health Institute and there be disciplined. You have strength, and you can employ your strength to good account if you are so disposed, but if you prefer to follow your own inclination rather than duty, we can no longer interest ourselves for you. We mean what we say when we tell you that you must change your course or be left homeless. If you feel under no obligation to do as we feel that it is our duty to have you, we feel under no obligation to have any further care in your case. 2LtMs, Lt 8, 1872, par. 9