Selections from Eliza Leslie

Selections from Eliza Leslie

Selections from Eliza Leslie

Selections from Eliza Leslie

Synopsis

Best known for her culinary and domestic guides and the award-winning short story "Mrs. Washington Potts", Eliza Leslie deserves a much more prominent place in contemporary literary discussions of the nineteenth century. Her writing, known for its overtly moralistic and didactic tones - though often presented with wit and humour - also provides contemporary readers with a nuanced perspective for understanding the diversity among American women in Leslie's time.Leslie's writing serves as a commentary on gender ideals and consumerism; presents complicated constructions of racial, national, and class-based identities; and critiques literary genres such as the Gothic romance and the love letter. These criticisms are exposed through the juxtaposition of her fiction and nonfiction instructive texts, which range from lessons on literary conduct to needlework; from recipes for American and French culinary dishes to travel sketches; from songs to educational games. Demonstrating the complexity of choices available to women at the time, this volume enables readers to see how Leslie's rhetoric and audience awareness facilitated her ability to appeal to a broad swath of the nineteenth-century reading public.

Excerpt

“And, indeed sir, there are cozeners abroad;
therefore it behoves men to be wary.”

SHAKSPEARE,

The Winter’s Tale, act 4, scene 4, lines 2140–41

Micajah Warner was owner and cultivator of a small farm in one of the oldest, most fertile, and most beautiful counties of the State of Pennsylvania, not far from the Maryland line. Micajah was a plain Quaker, and a man of quiet and primitive habits. He was totally devoid of all ambitious cravings after tracts of ten thousand acres, and he aspired not to the honour and glory of having his name given to a town in the western wilderness, (though Warnerville would not have sounded badly) neither was he possessed of an unconquerable desire of becoming a judge, or of going to Congress. Therefore, he had always been able to resist the persuasions and example of those of his neighbours, who left the home of their fathers, and the comforts of an old settlement, to seek a less tedious road to wealth and consequence, on the other side of the Alleghany. He was satisfied with the possession of two hundred acres, one half of which he had lent (not given) to his son Israel, who expected shortly to be married to a very pretty and very notable young woman in the neighbourhood, who was, however, no heiress.

Upon this event, Israel was to be established in an old frame house that had long since been abandoned by his father in favour of the substantial stone dwelling which the family oc-

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