Impressions from a Lost World: The Discovery of Dinosaur Footprints

Orra White's Letter to Lucy Fowler, February 19, 1820

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Before Orra herself was married, she wrote this letter to her friend Lucy Douglas Fowler in regard to Lucy's recent marriage to the Hon. James Fowler. Orra and Lucy became friends while both were teaching at Amherst Academy. 

Upon the insistence of another friend (Mrs. Betsey Parsons), Orra included a poem that gives marital advice. There are no "happily ever after" illusions here ("it is but seldom husbands bring a lighter yoke to bear") and the tone is down-to-earth and practical, yet ultimately optimistic, much like Orra herself.

It is not clear who wrote the poem. It appeared in the London Tee-Total Magazine and Literary Miscellany in 1840, in Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine in 1859 (where authorship is attributed to "M.S."), and in the Christian Nation newspaper in 1909, so its popularity endured. It certainly expressed Orra's beliefs about a woman's place in marriage: She must submit to her husband's will—yet the poem also implies that the man will be wise and kind.

Orra White
February 19, 1820
Courtesy of:
Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library